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California: USD 8.5 million to reduce energy use

26/03/2019 - François-Xavier Branthôme
Olam to reduce its carbon footprint
According to local press, food processing companies with operations in the Central Valley received more than USD 19 million from the California Energy Commission in February. The grants were made through the Food Production Investment Program, and are meant to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
As regards tomato processing industry in particular, the commission considered the following projects at its business meeting:
Olam West Coast: 
USD 2.01 million grant to install and operate an electric drying system at a dehydrated food manufacturing facility in Firebaugh, replacing a natural-gas-fueled system used for onion drying.
USD 3.57 million to design, install and operate a high-temperature solar thermal energy system at the Lemoore tomato processing facility.
The Neil Jones Food Co.: USD 3 million to install and operate an energy efficient pre-evaporator system for the Firebaugh tomato-processing plant.
Regarding the use of solar energy in the food industry, several processors have already thought about how to implement these techniques for possible applications in the dehydration of tomatoes and tomato pomace, since these processes can help reduce the use of natural gas consumption required for steam generation.
According to professional sources, the following are the key points relating to Olam’s project:
An array of mirrors is used to collect and concentrate radiant energy from the sun.
The concentrated radiant energy is “stored” by heating up a flowing liquid.
The liquid used to “store” the concentrated radiant energy is either oil or water. If water is used as the heated medium, then that heated water (approx. 82°C) can be used directly as feed water into thermal processes. If oil is used as the heated medium, then there would need to be an intermediate heat transfer step where the hot oil is used to heat water.  
The research will focus on the relative costs and energy efficiencies of using water or oil as the radiant heat storage medium.
The project would be installed and tested at Olam’s Lemoore tomato processing facility.
Olam would see the primary benefits of the project as reducing the carbon footprint of the production facility and in lowering overall energy costs.
The grant is in effect through 2022.  Olam is really just beginning design work.  Likely the project will definitely not be on-line for the 2019 crop and will not come on line until 2021.
The results of the research will be made publicly available through the California Energy Commission.
Source:, Professional sources
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