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Bühler builds ultra-low-emission processing plant

From the April 2018 issue.

In June 2017, Bühler was awarded the contract for building what it says will be the world’s most efficient climate- and environmental-friendly coffee processing plant.

Bühler is building what it says is the world’s most advanced coffee processing plant for the Norwegian coffee producer Joh. Johannson.

The plant combines innovative roasting technology with low greenhouse gas emissions. The coffee roasting biogas is close to carbon neutral.

“With Bühler, we have found a solution partner that fully understands our sustainability concerns and is capable of putting them to practice,” says Espen Gjerde, Chief Executive Officer of Joh. Johannson.

Stefan Schenker, Head of the Bühler Business Unit Coffee Processing, agrees.

“Together with our customer Johannson, we are setting a new eco-standard in the field of coffee production,” Schenker says.

Coffee continues to be a growth market with growth rates of about 3 per cent worldwide, Bühler reports.

After considerable efforts by processors to achieve sustainable sourcing of green coffee, the focus is now increasingly set on the manufacturing process in the coffee factory.

This is because the process consumes a lot of energy. A factory with an annual processing capacity of 10,000 tonnes consumes roughly 870 kilowatts – about as much as would be used by 100 Norwegian households.

The Norwegian coffee producer and Bühler have teamed up to reverse that trend. In June 2017, Bühler was awarded the contract for building what it says will be the world’s most efficient climate- and environmental-friendly coffee processing plant.

For this low-carbon production plant, Bühler will supply the complete process technology – from green coffee intake to cleaning, blending, roasting, and grinding.

For the roasting process, Bühler has fitted its Infinity roaster with a unique preheating unit and a novel energy recovery system. The system operates on the basis of collecting heat by multiple heat exchangers, allowing centralized intermediate storage of the energy released by the process in temperature-stratified water tanks.

The energy stored is largely used for powering the same roasting process and preheating of green coffee, but may also be reused for such purposes as raising the temperature of the incoming cold air, the company says.

Some of the energy will also be used to heat the plant’s offices and laboratories.

This technology reduces the energy consumption of the roasting process by 50 per cent, which accounts for as much as 80 per cent of the entire energy consumption.

The total balance of electric power required by the factory is covered by huge solar cells.

Moreover, the planned facility will boast one of the most advanced off-gas purification units for roasting systems. Regenerative thermal oxidation (RTO) allows smart control of the air currents, which in turn enables heat to be stored and returned to the process.

The entire plant is operated by a highly complex, smart, and automated process control system, which measures the product temperature inside the roasting chamber at intervals of a second and fine-tunes the process in the presence of even the slightest changes.

This produces maximum profile accuracy, which has a direct impact on the quality consistency of the coffee’s taste and on flexibility.

Despite all the company’s sustainability requirements, Joh. Johannson pledges it will never compromise when it comes to quality, and the unmistakable taste experience for consumers.

With this new processing plant, Joh. Johannson clearly aims to achieve an uncontested market position.

CEO Gjerde says the project stands to boost the company’s competitiveness in the marketplace.

“The system’s energy consumption, slashed to the absolute minimum, is not only extremely sustainable, but also makes sound business sense,” he says. “In the processing industries, energy accounts for as much as 10 per cent of the total cost.

“We are now the world’s sole producer that can offer its customers top-quality coffee that has been produced as environmental- and climate-friendly as possible, with excellent taste.”

The plant, with the capacity to produce up to 12,000 tonnes of coffee annually, is scheduled to go on stream in mid-2019. GCR

For more information, visit: www.buhlergroup.com

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