Reducing Energy Use in the Baking Sector
The UK baking industry is a major energy using sub-sector of the UK food and drinks industry. Production of bread, cake and other bakery products still consumes in excess of the equivalent of 2,000 GWhr of energy annually, which is equivalent to annual CO2 emissions of 570,000 tonnes, even after a concerted effort by the sector to reduce their carbon footprint.
Efficient baking methods developed by C-Tech could save 100,000 tonnes a year of CO2. C-Tech Innovation is working with funding from Innovate UK to increase efficiency and save energy within the bakery sector. Innovative heat management system for more sustainable baking (InnovBake) is developing an innovative low-energy baking system based on a two step process consisting of an accelerated conventional baking stage followed by a novel post baking cooling step.
A step change in bakery technology
The InnovBake project represents a step change in bakery technology, allowing the conventional bakery process to be shortened significantly with a corresponding reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The reduction in baking time permits more efficient utilisation of baking equipment allowing more product to be processed per shift. A 20% reduction in the baking time will allow 4 ovens to produce the same number of units as formerly baked with 5 ovens, saving money, energy and space. This reduction in baking time alone could reduce the overall consumption of the sector by up to 20%, which equates to a saving of more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Comparison of the interior of a chocolate croissant baked with a traditional process (left) and InnovBake (right)
One of the key innovative aspects of the InnovBake project is associated with the advanced thermal management that can be achieved through the introduction of a vacuum cooling post-baking step. While some baking processes depend intrinsically on temperature (most noticeably the development of crust and external texture of bakery products), other baking processes are more fundamentally linked to thermal energy. This opens up the possibility of recovering the latent heat stored in the moisture at the end of an accelerated baking step to complete the internal baking process, resulting in substantially reduced energy use as well as reduced process times.