A Packaging Machine A Day - Nitrogen Purge
Today we will talk about a rather unique packaging machine that may not be found on all or even a majority of packaging lines. However, nitrogen purge machines can be very important for those packaging foods or other products with a shelf life. This simply machine can keep products fresh and extend shelf life by removing oxygen from head spaces and reducing the effect that oxygen has in breaking down those products.
When certain components of food or other products are exposed to oxygen, those components begin to break down, changing the color, texture of even taste of the products themselves. For this reason, products have what is termed a "shelf life" or "best by" date. The nitrogen purge equipment, to put it simply, replaces as much oxygen as possible with nitrogen - a tasteless, odorless gas - to delay the breakdown and in turn extend shelf life by allowing products to retain their taste, color and texture for a longer period of time.
Gas purge systems will typically be placed right before the capping machine on a packaging line, to maximize the effect of the purge. The design of the machine will depend in part on the set up of the rest of the line, but one of the most popular designs simply allows the packager to connect the purge system to the power conveyor via a set of brackets. The machine can also be built to use a portable stand, with multiple heads and with other options as well. The machine can also use argon rather than nitrogen for packagers that prefer the alternative gas.
In addition to the nitrogen purge machines that use gas to extend the shelf life, some companies may use a liquid nitrogen injector prior to a fill to add strength to flimsy containers. Liquid nitrogen immediately turns to a gaseous form upon being released in to the container. The expansion of the gas can add rigidness to the containers to make for a stronger, more sturdy bottle.