The most important differences between freezing technologies (2023)

Aug 04, 2016 | News

A guide through different types of freezers and technologies

For many food processors, choosing the right freezing equipment is the greatest challenge at the start, as the choices seem wide and many times confusing. This guide will try to give a better understanding of the differences between the many types of freezers out on the market.

As a start, it is important to mention that freezing time is one of the most important parameters in the freezing process. The freezing time represents the time needed to decrease the temperature of the product’s thermal centre to a specific temperature below zero and the reason why it is so important is because it determines the quality of the final product and the operation costs.

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The International Institute of Refrigeration has defined a number of factors which influence the freezing time and those include: the shape and dimensions of the product, the in-feed and out-feed temperatures, the temperature of the refrigerating medium, the surface heat transfer coefficient of the product, the change in the total heat content in the system and the thermal conductivity of the product. Therefore in order to get the optimal freezing time and by extension, the optimal freezing results, the right equipment should be chosen for specific products.

There are 9 different types of freezing equipment (most of them have more than one naming):

  • The air blast freezers / cold storage freezers
  • The cartoon freezers / box freezers
  • The spiral belt freezers
  • The fluidized bed freezer / IQF freezer (or tunnel freezers)
  • The immersion freezers / brine freezers
  • The plate freezers / block freezers
  • The contact belt freezers
  • The impingement freezers / flat product freezers
  • The cryogenic freezers

Air Blast Freezer or Cold Storage Freezer

Probably the oldest of the different types of freezers, these are using still or forced air as a medium and the product is kept static in freezing storage rooms. Still air freezer or cold storage is the simplest method with the lowest investment costs. It is most suitable for large or unprocessed products, however it is the slowest freezing method. Forced air freezer is the improved version of cold storage and it is using convection to circulate cold air in the freezing room. However, with this technology the freezing time is still long as the airflow is not sufficiently controlled in the freezer leading to low surface heat transfer. As it is the cheapest freezing method, air blast freezers are used on a wide range of products.

In some alternative versions of this method, the product is placed on rack trays and is frozen inside the cold storage with the help of cold air circulation. The trolleys or racks can be moved and replaced manually or by specialized trucks, however the high manpower needed for operation is one of the main disadvantages to this method. The advantage though is that it can be suitable for many types of products.

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Cartoon Freezer/ Box Freezer

Cartoon freezers, also called box freezers are mechanically complicated freezers, based on relatively simple freezing concept. Products already packaged and placed in boxes are sorted, transported and stored mechanically by automated mechanism, placing them on shelves in a storage with cold blasts of air. These boxes are then left for usually long amounts of time, being ultimately unloaded also mechanically. The whole mechanism is automated and needs very limited manpower however it is not suited for many types of products.

There is a number of freezing technologies which are using belt as transportation mean of the product. The main advantage of the technologies using belts is the extremely accurate control of transportation process, while the disadvantage can range from maintenance requirement, difficulty of cleaning or belt marks left on the product. We will further present the different types of freezers using belts for product transportation.

Spiral Belt Freezer

In this case, the belt is bent around a central supporting structure, maximizing the belt surface in a limited space. The spiral belt freezer can be a good solution for gentle products as it minimizes product damage at transfer points. This technology also presents the advantage of very large amount of square metres on a limited footprint allowing high capacity and continuous production with limited man power. However the spiral belt freezer still presents the disadvantages of the belt.

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Fluidized Bed Freezer or IQF Freezer (Tunnel Freezer)

Sometimes referred to as tunnel freezer in South and North America, the fluidized or IQF freezer is based on a belt or a perforated bed on which the product is fluidized with strong vertical airflow which is passing from beneath the bed/belt. This is the most complex freezing technology as the product is not statically frozen thus multiple variables such as shape of the product, aerodynamics, ripeness, firmness or water content of the product will all influence the freezing result.

The advantage of an IQF freezer is its high air velocity which is suspending the product in the cold air stream therefore separately freezing each piece of product without creating lumps. This technology is specifically optimal for unpacked, small items which tend to lump such as shrimp, peas, diced meat or diced/sliced fruits and vegetables. In addition, this is a very quick process therefore dehydration of the product is being minimized. There are already several solutions in terms of bed types depending on the producer, ranging from plastic or wire conveyor belts to removable and perforated bed plates.

The next 3 types of freezers are part of the same bigger category called the Contact Freezers. When it comes to heat transfer rate, the contact freezers are some of the most efficient types as the product becomes in direct or indirect contact with the freezing medium. Therefore we can categorise them into direct contact, also called immersion freezers and indirect contact, which can be one of 2 different types of freezers: plate freezers or contact belt freezers. We will further describe each of these types of technology.

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Immersion Freezer or Brine Freezer

In the immersion freezer the product is completely emerged in a tank with a cooled freezing medium which can be chemicals or mixtures with salt or sugar. Immersion method is the fastest freezing method and it is commonly used as a pre-treatment of large products in order to create a frozen layer before the product is exposed to longer freezing time, in order to avoid dehydration. The challenge with this method is that the solution becomes quickly diluted with the product which can change the process speed and efficiency.

Plate Freezer or Block Freezer

This is the most commonly used contact freezer and it uses a method of pressing the product between two hallow plates with a refrigerant circulating inside those plates. However, this type of freezing equipment is only suited for regular shape products or small products block-frozen in a liquid (e.g. seafood). This technology is used as a first step in the processing of seafood as a fast freezing solution for conservation purposes.

Contact Belt Freezer

Consisting of a single band or double band on which the product is laid, the contact belt freezer is usually used for freezing thin product layers such as egg yolks, soups, fruit pulps, or other very soft products.

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Impingement Freezer / Flat Product Freezer

The impingement freezer is moving the product through the freezer on a belt or wire mesh while high velocity air is blown on the product. This freezing method is most suitable for flat products such as hamburgers. However this technology can be challenging for too big or too small products.

Cryogenic Freezer

This technology consists of exposing the product to an atmosphere of aprox. -60°C through direct contact with liquefied gases, usually nitrogen or carbon dioxide. There are two different types of freezers with cryogenic properties: the ones using immersion or dipping of the product into the medium and those which are spraying the medium on the product. In both types the product is continuously transported on a belt to the other end of the freezer. Usually those cryogenic freezers using dipping method are consuming more medium but are getting better freezing results, while the spraying method insures lower medium usage, therefore lower costs. The advantages of the cryogenic freezers is their small size, mobility and the good freezing results. However, high cost of the liquefied gases and constant dependency on suppliers is seen as an important drawback for this type of freezers, especially for processors located in remote areas.

All in all, the selection of the right freezer is not simple and cannot be limited to the “cost-to-freeze per kg” rational. Every food processor has to carefully balance all the important elements such as the cost of investment, operating costs, regulatory compliance costs, product type and desired freezing quality – all being important in determining the optimal freezing solution for the processor.

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FAQs

What are the different methods of freezing? ›

Three types of freezing methods, namely, spiral tunnel freezing method (SF), cryogenic refrigerator freezing method (RF) and liquid nitrogen spray freezing method (LF), were applied to frozen unfermented dough.

What are five 5 important considerations when freezing food? ›

5 Tips For Freezing Food
  • Wrap foods properly. Make sure that the items you are freezing are properly contained and protected. ...
  • Prepare items before freezing. Simply plunging food into frigid temperatures can be damaging. ...
  • Know how long food can stay frozen. ...
  • Set aside a bag for scraps. ...
  • What you should never freeze.

What is the importance of freezing in food processing? ›

Freezing delays spoilage and keeps foods safe by preventing microorganisms from growing and by slowing down the enzyme activity that causes food to spoil. As the water in the food freezes into ice crystals, it becomes unavailable to those microorganisms that need it for growth.

What is freezing in technology? ›

In software engineering, a freeze is a point in time in the development process after which the rules for making changes to the source code or related resources become more strict, or the period during which those rules are applied.

What is the best freezing method? ›

What's the best way to freeze food?
  1. Keep things cold: Make sure your freezer is 0°F. ...
  2. Don't put hot food in the freezer: If cooked, allow food to cool completely. ...
  3. Wrap and seal food tightly: Foil, plastic wrap and plastic freezer bags help protect food from freezer burn.
Nov 3, 2020

What are three freezing methods? ›

Various methods of freezing
  • Contact Freezing. Contact freezers are used for freezing products in bulk and in blocks. ...
  • Blast Freezing. In blast freezing it is air, which is cooled and blasted or circulated over the product. ...
  • Brine Freezing. ...
  • Cryogenic Freezing. ...
  • Loss of Nutrients Due to Slow Freezing.

What are the four 4 factors to consider in choosing food to preserve *? ›

Consider these five tips when preserving food.
  • Proper temperature. ...
  • Correct amount of processing time. ...
  • New jar lids with screw bands that seal properly. ...
  • Up-to-date, approved recipes. ...
  • Current, approved food preservation methods.
Aug 8, 2016

What are the advantages and disadvantages of freezing? ›

Freezing cannot improve the flavor or quality of food. Freezing temporarily stops the growth of spoilage organisms but may not kill them. Once frozen foods thaw, surviving organisms grow. Fruits and vegetables must be washed before freezing to remove garden soil, which is a source of bacteria.

What is freezing and its importance? ›

Freezing is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of food preservation, which allows preservation of taste, texture, and nutritional value in foods better than any other method.

What are the two processes of freezing? ›

Cryopreservation of cellular material traditionally involves a involves a two-step controlled rate freezing (CRF) process: (1) the controlled reduction of the temperature of the cellular material to − 80°C at a rate of 1°C/min, followed by, (2) reducing the temperature even further to ≤ − 150°C usually by placing into ...

What are the advantages of freezing method? ›

Freezing reduces the number of potentially harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It does that by preventing micro-organisms from growing (which happens naturally as fresh food degrades.) Freezing suspends microbial and fungal activity in food. As long as it's frozen, it's safe.

What is one example of freezing? ›

Examples: Water turning into ice when the temperature drops below 0˚C is an example of freezing. Liquid lava turning into solid rock when it cools is called solidifying.

What is freezing simple answer? ›

Freezing is a phase transition where a liquid turns into a solid when its temperature is lowered below its freezing point.

What is freezing and example? ›

The change in the liquid to the solid phase at a constant temperature is called freezing. The temperature at which liquid changes to solid is called the freezing point. Example: water-filled in an ice cube tray, when kept in the freezer, changes into solid, so here the water freezes to form ice cubes.

What is the fastest way to freeze something? ›

In physics and chemistry, flash freezing is the process whereby objects are frozen in just a few hours by subjecting them to cryogenic temperatures, or through direct contact with liquid nitrogen at −196 °C (−320.8 °F). It is commonly used in the food industry.

What are the 3 main steps involved in freeze drying? ›

Stages of Freeze Drying

There are three stages in the lyophilization process: Pre-freezing, primary drying, and secondary drying.

Why is quick freezing a preferred method? ›

Rapid freezing improves the quality of the food. The faster food freezes, the smaller the crystals that form. Small crystals do less damage to cell walls. Slow freezing produces large ice crystals that punch through cell membranes.

What are two examples of freezing? ›

Here are some common examples of freezing:
  • Snowfall.
  • Sea Ice.
  • Frozen Food.
  • Solidifying of Melted Candle Wax.

What are the principles of freezing? ›

Principle of Freezing:
  • When a substance changes its state from liquid to solid, the evolution of heat takes place from the body to its surroundings.
  • Due to the evolution of heat, the kinetic energy of liquid particles decreases, and their motion slowdowns.

What are the 4 types of preservation methods? ›

Modern methods include canning, pasteurization, freezing, irradiation, and the addition of chemicals.

What are the 4 most important principle of food safety? ›

Four Steps to Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. Following four simple steps at home—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning.

What are the 3 most important principles for storing food safely? ›

Safe food storage and display

To safely store and display food, you should follow these tips: keep raw foods and ready-to-eat foods separate, to avoid cross-contamination. store food in clean, food-grade storage containers. don't store food in opened cans.

What type of process is freezing? ›

Freezing is the process in which a liquid changes to a solid. It occurs when a liquid cools to a point at which its particles no longer have enough energy to overcome the force of attraction between them. The freezing point of a substance is the temperature at which it freezes. The freezing point of pure water is 0°C.

What is the disadvantage of freezing? ›

The freezing process may cause undesirable changes in the texture of some foods. This occurs as the moisture in the cells expands when frozen and breaks the cell walls making them mushy. It may change the way you use those frozen foods.

What are the factors affecting freezing? ›

Air temperature, air density, air humidity and air turbulence are other factors that have to be taken into account when the effect of air condition on freezing time is considered. Some of these factors however, may only have a minor effect. Product temperature before freezing.

Which of them is an disadvantage of freezing process? ›

Disadvantages of freezing include:

can be expensive due to the power or fuel needed to operate the freezer. customers often have less regard for frozen fish. until it has thawed, it may be difficult to identify whether the fish has been abused.

What happens during freezing? ›

Freezing occurs when a liquid is cooled and turns to a solid. Eventually the particles in a liquid stop moving about and settle into a stable arrangement, forming a solid. This is called freezing and occurs at the same temperature as melting.

How many types of freezing are there? ›

There are two main types of freezing system: mechanical (which use a circulating refrigerant to reduce the temperature of air or a liquid which is passed over the food) and cryogenic (which use the direct application of liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide onto the food).

What are the 5 methods of food preservation? ›

Modern methods include canning, pasteurization, freezing, irradiation, and the addition of chemicals.

What is the best definition of freezing? ›

to become hardened into ice or into a solid body; change from the liquid to the solid state by loss of heat. to become hard or stiffened because of loss of heat, as objects containing moisture: Meat will freeze in a few hours.

What is freezing question and answer? ›

The change in the liquid to the solid phase at a constant temperature is called freezing. The temperature at which liquid changes to solid is called the freezing point.

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