Resistance to airflow and the effects on cooling efficiency of multi-scale ventilated pome fruit packaging

Berry, Tarl Michael (2013-12)

Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Inadequate cooling of produce after it has been packed into ventilated packaging can result in inconsistent fruit quality. Misalignment of ventilation holes during stacking as well as the use of internal packaging, such as trays, polyliner bags and thrift bags reduces airflow distribution through the packaging. Consequently, the complex needs of maintaining the cold chain of perishable produce and the considerable variations in packaging designs have made it challenging to find an optimal ventilated package and stacking arrangement. The aims of this study were, therefore, to assess the status of ventilated packaging in the South African pome fruit industry, and to characterize the effects of package design and multi-scale packaging components on the resistance to airflow and cooling performance of apples under forced-air cooling conditions. A survey of the pome fruit industry identified over twenty packaging designs which were grouped into eleven unique designs and further categorised into either ‘display’ or ‘telescopic’ designs. Although South African fruit industry standards recommend ventilation areas of at least 5%, the ventilation areas of package designs identified from the survey varied considerably between <1 and 11%. Furthermore, the study showed that use of stacking renders many of the ventilation holes ineffective, due to blockages from adjacent cartons. The contribution of each component of the multi-scale packages used for handling apples was determined by analysis of pressure drop during forced-air cooling. The results showed when utilising a combination of cartons, fruit trays and plastic liner bags, the total pressure drop contribution of the cartons (8%) and fruit trays (3%) was minimal, while the use of plastic liner bags contributed 89%. However, in a carton and thrift bag packaging combination, the thrift bags contributed 66% to the pressure drop while the carton contributed 34%. The cooling results indicated a negative correlation between the total stack ventilation area and the cooling heterogeneity. In addition, the airflow velocity was correlated positively with fruit cooling rate and negatively with total moisture loss. Fruit packed inside polyliner bags had cooling rates four times slower than fruit on trays and three times slower in thrift bags. The use of liner bags blocked the ventilation holes, thereby reducing the airflow velocity. As a result of the longer cooling times in the polyliner bags, fruit remained at higher temperatures for longer periods, resulting in up to three times more moisture loss during forced-air cooling. In addition, a temperature gradient formed due to a progressive increase in air temperature through the stack, thereby resulting in a similar gradient of moisture loss. This research showed that airflow velocity and distribution were the most important factors contributing to the effectiveness of fruit cooling in multi-scale packaging. From a cold chain perspective, future packaging designs should therefore focus on optimising ventilation characteristics and alignment during stacking to ensure adequate airflow. Given the contribution of internal packaging to high resistance to airflow, such packaging components should be used with caution and only when necessary to meet physiological and market requirements.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Onvoldoende verkoeling van vars produkte nadat hulle verpak is kan lei tot wisselende vruggehalte. Wanbelyning van ventilasiegate tydens stapeling sowel as die gebruik van interne verpakking soos rakkies (eng. “trays”), poli-etileensakke en drasakkies (eng. “thrift bag”) verminder die lugverspreiding deur die verpakking. Komplekse behoeftes om bederfbare produkte in die koue ketting te behou en die aansienlike verskille in verpakkingsontwerpe het dit 'n uitdaging gemaak om 'n optimale geventileerde verpakking en stapelskikking of -rangskikking te vind. Die doelwitte van hierdie studie was dus om die status van geventileerde verpakking in die Suid-Afrikaanse kernvrugbedryf te asseseer, en die gevolge van die verpakkingsontwerp en multi-skaal verpakkingskomponente op die weerstand teen lugvloei en verkoeling van appels onder geforseerde lugverkoeling te bepaal. ‘n Opname van die kernvrugbedryf het meer as twintig verpakkingsontwerpe geïdentifiseer, wat in elf unieke ontwerpe gegroepeer is en verder getipeer word in ‘vertoon’ en ‘teleskopiese’ kartonontwerpe. Alhoewel die Suid-Afrikaanse vrugindustrie-standaarde ventilasie areas van ten minste 5% aanbeveel, het die ventilasie areas van die verpakkingsontwerpe geïdentifiseer uit die opname aansienlik gewissel tussen <1 en 11%. Verder het die studie getoon dat gebruik van stapeling baie van die ventilasiegate ondoeltreffend laat weens blokkasies veroorsaak deur aangrensende kartonne. Die bydrae van elke komponent van die multi-skaal verpakkingskombinasies gebruik vir die hantering van appels was bepaal deur analise van die afname in lugdruk tydens geforseerde lugverkoelingskondisies. Die resultate het getoon dat wanneer ‘n kombinasie van kartonne, polietileensakke en vrugte plus rakkies gebruik word, die bydrae van die kartonne (8%) en vrugte plus rakkies (3%) tot die totale afname in lugdruk minimaal was, terwyl die gebruik van polietileensakke ‘n 89% bydrae gemaak het. In ‘n karton en drasakkie kombinasie het die drasakkies 66% bygedra tot die afname in lugdruk, terwyl die karton 34% bygedra het. Die verkoelingsresultate het 'n negatiewe korrelasie getoon tussen die totale stapelventilasie-area en die verkoelingsheterogeniteit. Daarbenewens was die lugvloeisnelheid positief gekorreleer met vrugverkoelingstempo en negatief gekorreleer met totale vogverlies. Die verkoelingstydperk van vrugte in die poli-etileensakke was vier keer langer as die rakkie met vrugte kombinasie en drie keer langer in die drasakkies. Die poli-etileensakke het die ventilasiegate versper en dus die lugvloeisnelheid verlaag. Weens die langer verkoelingstye in die poli-etileensakke was vrugte veel langer aan hoër temperature blootgestel, wat uiteindelik gelei het tot drie keer meer massaverlies gedurende geforseerde lugverkoeling. Daarby het ‘n temperatuurgradiënt gevorm as gevolg van ‘n progressiewe verhoging in lugtemperatuur deur die stapel wat gelei het tot ‘n gelykstaande gradiënt van vogverlies. Hierdie navorsing het getoon dat die lugvloeisnelheid en -verspreiding die belangrikste faktore was wat die doeltreffendheid van vrugverkoeling in multi-skaal verpakking geaffekteer het. Uit 'n koelketting perspektief moet die toekomstige verpakkingsontwerpe dus fokus op die optimalisering van ventilasie eienskappe en belyning (eng. “alignment”) tydens stapeling om voldoende lugvloei te verseker. Gegewe die bydrae van die interne verpakking tot hoë weerstand teen lugvloei, moet sulke verpakkingskomponente met omsigtigheid gebruik word en slegs wanneer dit nodig is om aan markvereistes te voldoen.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85685
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