AVEKA Group, is excited to announce the completion of the large-scale expansion to its AVEKA Nutra Processing facility in Waukon, Iowa.
With five facilities and over 25 years of operation, AVEKA Group was feeling the strain of increased demand for its specialty milling, drying, blending, and classifying services. One particular service that was seeing an especially high area of growth was large scale spray drying. Having nearly reached the maximum spray drying capacity, AVEKA knew it needed to continue to expand its production capacity—and that meant expanding one of its facilities as well.
After searching for nearly 3 years, a used commercial spray dryer (Dahmes Stainless, Inc. (DSI)) was found in excellent condition in Kentucky. This dryer was then brought to Waukon Iowa, joining the two other tower dryers currently in use at the AVEKA Nutra Processing facility.
The scope of the project
In order to properly house the large new dryer, as well as additional equipment and material storage, a multi-million-dollar, multi-stage expansion to the Waukon facility was required. The largest feature of the expansion is the 30 x 35 foot spray chamber which rises 75 feet above the Iowa farmland (that’s 80 grueling steps to the top!)
The new V-Bottom spray dryer is a new design for AVEKA. This dryer has an integrated baghouse (like the box spray dryers at AVEKA Manufacturing and Cresco Food Technologies) while having same tall form spray chamber as the current tower dryers in Waukon. This takes the best parts of each of the existing dryers with the baghouse internal to the drying chamber while still having the flexibility of the tall form spray chamber for drying a wide range of products.
Design changes were also made to the safety systems of the spray dryer. With ever changing regulations in the combustible dust standards, AVEKA added blow out panels in the tower and baghouse sections of the drying chamber. This is in addition to the sprinkler and deluge systems in the dryer to handle any safety concerns while in operation.
A new 15 X 50 foot liquid processing area was added directly adjacent to the new dryer tower and provides the liquid feed into the spray dryer system. This includes two 25,000 gallon liquid storage silos and other liquid processing equipment that is needed for food safety requirements before going on to be atomized and dried in the spray dryer. Other liquid handling equipment is also in this area, including clean in place systems such as tanks and pumps along with chilled water systems for keeping the incoming product cold in the storage silo’s. And In order to keep up with the additional capacity the company also constructed a 6,000 square foot warehouse to store material before it is shipped off to another satisfied customer.
It was also decided to install a new bag filling system into the new spray dryer. On the V-Bottom spray dryer output, powder handling equipment convey the dried product to a screener to separate any unwanted large particles formed in the dryer. The powder that passes through the screener goes through a magnet before dropping into the bagger system for packaging into heat sealed product bags. Each bag is checked for weight accuracy before going through the heat sealer and final X-ray metal detection. In case any customer choses to package into 2,000 pound supersacs, the powder conveyor and screener can be rotated to an alternate path through the dryer chamber floor where the product passes through metal detection on the way to the supersac filling station.
Construction crews initially broke ground on the project back on November 1st of 2019 with an estimated completion date of July 2020. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions construction was halted multiple times, pushing back the start date. But by September, Technicians were able switch the machines on and begin testing the spray dryer with small batches of product. After ironing out a few kinks, the 1st full batch of pea protein was successfully finished on November 25th, 2020
What this means for AVEKA
The new expansion has increased AVEKA Nutra Processing’s drying capacity by over 25%, adding 2000 pounds per hour of capacity. It has also greatly expanded the food grade liquid processing capabilities, opening the door to a much larger variety of food grade products and new clients.
In addition, this expansion also means that AVEKA was able to bring on several new team members as spray dryer operators and other support staff are required to oversee the new production around the clock, as is typical of all AVEKA operations.
Bring your products to life with AVEKA
If your business is in need of spray drying or any other particle processing services, then AVEKA has a solution for you. From lab-scale samples to tanker truck quantities, we can provide toll manufacturing and contract R&D for a broad spectrum of industries. Contact AVEKA today and let us help you find a creative and personalized answer to your engineered particle questions.