GEA has developed a process to spray dry aloe vera for use in the food, beverage and cosmetics industry. Until now the therapeutic plant has been dried naturally in the sun, a fairly crude process with limited uses, or has undergone an extensive and expensive preparation for freeze drying for pharmaceutical use. The new process bridges the gap providing a high quality powder that is suitable for use in personal care, nutraceutical and food products.
GEA Solution to Process Aloe Vera
GEA already supplies freeze drying technology that produces the highest quality aloe vera powder for use in pharmaceutical products. However spray drying will provide an efficient and economic option for those looking to use the final dried product as a functionality enhancing agent for yogurts, dressings, drinks, face creams and cosmetics.
The process requires the aloe vera cactus leaves to be processed so the moisture absorbing pulp can be micro disintegrated and spray dried efficiently. The leaves are first filleted to remove the hard outer shell. What is left, the inner tissue, is made up of 98% water and just 2% tissue matter that behaves like a sponge. This means that when the aloe vera has been spray dried it will act as a thickening agent and provide texture and volume to the end product without adding calories.
The aloe vera fillet is then put through a shredder and a milling machine to create a feed that is able to be atomized, the feed pulp is heated to less than 50°C and dosed with enzymes in a reaction tank; these enzymes break down the cellulose chain reducing viscosity. The fibres are then segregated and those less than 200 microns continue in the process. Aloin, used as a bittering agent in beverages and as a pharmaceutical laxative, is extracted. The remaining pulp then goes on to be pasteurized creating a gel. After evaporation to increase the total solids of the gel it is spray dried into a fine, free flowing powder.
Spray Drying allows Accessibility to wide range of Industries
Robert Djernaes, Food Sales Group Manager for GEA, Denmark explained that the new process would make aloe vera much more accessible to a wide range of industries. “The spray dried powder is ideal for use in all products, and the spray drying process has lower operation costs compared to freeze drying,” he explained. “We are confident that the process will be widely used throughout the food and personal care industries. It is the first time that this process has been produced industrially and we are excited to be able to include it as part of GEA’s core business processes.”
The Drying Process
This Spray Dryer is often referred to as a one-stage spray dryer as the powder will have its final moisture content when discharged from the chamber. Atomization of the concentrate takes place via either a Rotary Atomizer or high-pressure nozzles. The drying air enters through the air disperser at a high velocity, ensuring optimal mixing with the atomized concentrate. Evaporation is instantaneous, taking place as the droplets pass through the drying chamber.