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Citrosol expands its pilot plant increasing experimental capacity within a realistic horticultural plant environment

For almost a year now, Citrosol have been able to simulate complete fruit treatments from arrival from the field through to departure for distribution. The Valencian firm are able to conduct tests on their new ecological plant based coatings, PLANTSEAL®, and their quick-drying waxes, as well as evaluating the different fungicidal treatments in the coatings. All tests conducted are coupled with exhaustive control over all the application parameters.  

Industrial variability is perhaps the greatest challenge faced by horticultural plants. This possible divergence between results in the laboratory and those experienced later at an industrial level in the packinghouse is a problem that Citrosol has been investigating for many years. With the installation of a comprehensive experimental line in its pilot plant in Potríes (Valencia) even better results will be obtained.

Until now, Citrosol has used a pilot drencher of close to commercial dimensions, with various in-built features, which have allowed it to greatly improve its CITROSOL Zero Waste technology. Now, with the installation of the complete experimental line, evaluation of what may happen in a packinghouse under a controlled industrial environment will be possible. A qualitative leap with which Citrosol is closing the circle to test fruit from arrival from the field through the subsequent treatments, drencher and in-line on to storage of the fruit.

The pilot plant in our laboratory has undergone a fundamental development having been expanded to replicate a full line within a packinghouse; a decisive step to close the gap between the studies in our laboratory and their transfer to an industrial level, to cut a long story short, to reduce industrial variability”, outlined Benito Orihuel, postharvest advisor at Citrosol.

Elements of the new pilot plant

  1. Dumper

This element, made up of a ramp with stainless steel rollers, is driven by a motor with an electronic speed control. The rollers move in such a way that CITROSOL technicians can distribute the fruit evenly along the ramp and consequently over the entire line width. By incorporating a speed control in the motor, it is possible to govern the rate of delivery onto the line.

  1. Washing machine

The washing machine consists of three parts: treatment bar, rinsing showers and hot air ventilation rings for pre-drying the fruit.

The washing machine is equipped with a controlled dosing system for products depending on the treatment itself. The three fans are equipped with heating elements to generate hot air to help dry the fruit.

Incorporated within the washing machine is a system consisting of a 50-liter tank with a mixer and a peristaltic pump to dose the products precisely. Even cocktails of treatments can be made.

  1. Exit A

The experimental line is equipped with a by-pass that allows the fruit to be removed before going through the waxing line, in the event that we only want to wash the fruit that comes from the field and then use it for smaller tests (shine, weight loss, etc). In addition, this allows us to study the soap treatments, disinfectants or fungicides online.

  1. Applicator coatings

The wax applicator is composed of a motor with ULV, a flow regulator by means of a peristaltic pump, an automatic cleaning system consisting of showers and an automated brush scraper.

  1. Drying tunnel

The drying tunnel comprises electronically variable stainless-steel rollers with a temperature-controlled air heater that generates hot air monitored by four temperature probes distributed throughout the tunnel.

“This element, will allow us to control the drying temperature necessary for each coating and assess the time of exposure to heat required for complete drying”, added Jorge Bretó, Citrosol’s new CEO “we will finally be able to test drying temperatures!”.

  1. Exit B

Lastly, at the end of the drying tunnel, there is a tray located to collect the fruit leaving the line.

“The pilot plant in our laboratory has undergone a fundamental development having been expanded to replicate a full line within a packinghouse; a decisive step to close the gap between the studies in our laboratory and their transfer to an industrial level, to cut a long story short, to reduce industrial variability ”, outlined Benito Orihuel, postharvest advisor at Citrosol.

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