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Low-carbon chips on the menu at Talley’s Ashburton plant


July 30, 2022

Talley’s frozen chips will soon be produced using low carbon technology, leading to a 981 tonnes of CO2 equivalent reduction per annum - equivalent to taking 99 cars off the road each year.

Talley’s Ashburton vegetable production plant is installing a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) unit in its processing line in early 2023. This follows a successful trial of the technology in 2019.

PEF works by swapping steam for electricity during the French Fry cooking process. Potatoes need to be warmed up before they are sliced into chip-sized pieces, and traditional processing methods pre-heat the potatoes using a steam-driven pre-warmer. This steam producing machinery is being replaced with a PEF unit, which uses electricity to rupture the cell walls inside the potato, allowing water inside the cells to escape while retaining starches and maintaining the cell structure.

Energy is delivered in high-efficiency electric pulses to limit power consumption. Over the 25-year lifetime of the project, the equivalent carbon reduction benefit is 24,528 tonnes of CO2.

The upgrade will bring employment opportunities for project implementation to handover (seven full time equivalent (FTE) staff), and one to two FTE after the handover, plus the opportunity for staff to upskill to operate and maintain the unit.

Talley’s CEO Tony Hazlett says that the company is committed to reducing energy consumption throughout its business divisions, and that the PEF installation at its Ashburton plant is just one of the initiatives in action across its business to reduce carbon and help mitigate climate change impacts.

“We know that processing heat accounts for over a quarter of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, so it’s an area that represents a huge opportunity for CO2 emission reduction,” Hazlett says. “For our part, we are looking at our carbon emissions and energy use across the company and developing an updated reduction strategy to roll out over the coming years. The capital cost for these type of projects is significant and we have a number of production sites to consider, so we have a phased approach to our capital investment programme.

“The 2019 trial in Ashburton was successful, with the unit producing a 10 percent energy reduction on the processing line, and a nine percent reduction in coal consumption. Working with government through the GIDI fund has meant we have been able to bring the project forward to next year.”

Talley’s has implemented several fossil fuel conversions, including a coal to biomass boiler replacement in Northland, coal/diesel to renewable wood pellet fuelled boiler replacements in Marlborough and a significant plant upgrade in Waikato. The company has also made conversions at other business sites, including a cascade heat pump, a biogas boiler and a new heat pump and pellet boiler

Written for, and first published in Business South Magazine - July 2022

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