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Swiss food processing manufacturing giant Bühler Group and Norwegian roasting company Joh. Johannson Kaffe are teaming up to create what both companies believe will be the most energy-efficient large industrial roasting plant in the world.
Bühler was awarded the contract last year to help outfit the new facility with a wide range of production equipment and systems, and the company says that despite potentially massive production volumes — as much as 12,000 tons (or 24 million pounds) annually — the roasting plant could approach carbon neutrality.
“After the considerable efforts of processors to achieve sustainable sourcing of green coffee, the focus is now being increasingly set on the manufacturing process in the coffee factory,” Bühler said in a recent announcement.
The company will be supplying Joh. Johannson with processing equipment from green coffee intake all the way through the grinding process. At the center of the roasting process will be a Bühler Infinity model roaster outfitted with a custom preheating unit and 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,” Bühler said. “The energy stored is largely used for powering the same roasting process and preheating of green coffee, but may also be reused, say, for raising the temperature of the incoming cold air. Some of the energy will also be used to heat the offices and laboratories.”
The company claims the system will reduce energy consumption in the roasting process — which is estimated to account for 80 percent of the facility’s overall energy consumption — by approximately 50 percent. Meanwhile, all the facility’s electric needs will be covered by large solar cells. The system will also include a regenerative thermal oxidation (RTO) system — often used in manufacturing to capture heat from exhaust air — that can be returned to the process.
With leading brands such as Ali Kaffe and Evergood Kaffee, Joh. Johannson claims that it produces approximately one third of all the coffee consumed in Norway. The new roasting facility is expected to come online in mid 2019.