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Vacuum technology reduces costs in chocolate production

02 May 2016

A vacuum pump, used in Bremer Hachez Chocolade cocoa mill, has helped reduce maintenance requirements and offered cost savings through reduced water and energy consumption. 

Bremer Hachez Chocolade relies on the latest vacuum generator technology from Busch Pumps, and uses a Mink claw vacuum pump to evacuate the cocoa mill. The company has been producing high-quality chocolates for over 120 years. Today, the company still manufactures in the traditional way and to the original recipes of chocolatier Joseph Hachez, using only natural raw materials.

Today, only very few firms are involved in the whole spectrum of chocolate production. At Hachez, all steps in the process take place under one roof. After cleaning, roasting and shelling, grinding of the cocoa nibs is takes place in a traditional impact and shear mill in a vacuum.

The acetic acids released during the grinding process need to be extracted as this could have a detrimental effect on the flavour of the finished product. Today this is achieved with the vacuum pump. Originally, a liquid ring vacuum pump was installed in this cocoa mill to create the vacuum but it was found to be unreliable, as the extracted acids formed condensation in the pump and attacked the metal surfaces of the pump.

In addition, deposits formed in the vacuum pump, which reduced its performance and required the company to keep a complete replacement pump stage in storage, so that the pump stage of the operational liquid ring vacuum pump could be replaced straight away in the event of a failure.

Since the cocoa mill represents the ‘bottleneck’ of the production of various chocolate products because the cocoa beans for all products are ground there, its reliability is vital and the complete pump stage was replaced every six months as a precaution.

The water consumption of the liquid ring vacuum pump also proved to be a disadvantage. The annual average for this was 4,800m3. The annual costs for water and effluent water therefore amounted to 22,000 euros.

This liquid ring vacuum pump was replaced by a Busch Mink claw vacuum pump. This vacuum pump uses non-contact compression, which means that no operating fluids, such as water or oil, are required which eliminated the 22,000 euro cost for water. The acids that escape from the cocoa during the grinding process pass through the Mink claw vacuum pump as gas. Therefore no deposits or aggressive condensation are formed in the pump. After the Mink claw vacuum pump had been in operation for three years, there were neither losses in suction performance nor in vacuum level.

Maintenance is now restricted to regular checks of the upstream two-stage filter and an annual precautionary service carried out by Busch. Investigations of the vacuum pump using an endoscope revealed no deposits inside the pump. Therefore, all costs relating to previous replacement of the pump stage, downtime, storage and repairs are saved.

A further reduction in costs was calculated in relation to energy consumption because the Mink claw pump is driven by a 4.5 kW motor, whereas the previously used liquid ring vacuum pump was fitted with a 7.5 kW motor.

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