Who We Are and What We Do
Parker Freeze Dry offers drying equipment of various sizes. This includes everything from small-scale units for R&D applications to large commercial production size systems. The use of a commercial freeze dryer and similar products impacts many facets of our lives, including the foods we eat to pharmaceuticals available from retailers and health care providers.
Also known as lyophilization, freeze-drying has been around since 1890. Today, Parker Freeze Dry (thanks to 30+ years of experience) offers advanced equipment scaled to specific applications, with the capacity, throughput, and temperature ranges needed.
Why Choose Parker Freeze Dry?
Our business is completely devoted to the technology and equipment needed for effective freeze-drying. Scientific terms for this process include lyophilization, lyophilisation, and cryodesiccation. The idea of freeze-drying tissue originated in 1890, but a definitive process for achieving it on a reliable scale wasn’t invented until 1906.
A method of preserving the rabies virus in its live form was developed in 1911. This aided in vaccine development, while freeze-drying became commonplace to preserve blood serum sent to treat wounded soldiers in Europe during World War II.
Modern freeze dry machines include a condenser and vacuum pump. Many also integrate temperature control. Using the machinery supplied by Parker Freeze Dry, customers can manage all four stages of the process, which include:
- Pretreatment: During the pretreatment phase, the product may be concentrated, or its formulation may be altered to increase its stability, improve processing, or preserve its appearance. Other processes may be used to increase the product’s surface area. Food items may be treated in such a way they become free-flowing prior to being freeze-dried. Product quality, cycle time, and other considerations go into deciding whether to apply the process.
- Freezing: Freezing a product on a larger scale is different from that of individual materials in a laboratory. Commercial freezing typically involves a chest or walk-in freezer. The goal is to achieve sublimation, so solids don’t just melt into liquids. To do this, the environment must be below the lowest temperature at which the material’s solid and liquid coexist. Freezing may be done slowly, or, in the case of food, rapidly to prevent ice crystals from damaging cells and nutrients. Improper freezing can easily lead to spoilage. At this stage, a material may be loaded into cooling racks in the freeze dryer or placed in a conventional freezer first. It is critical the material does not thaw before the next stages, or else chemical reactions (possible only in the presence of liquid water) will cause degradation.
- Primary drying: Lowering the pressure to just a few millibars and adding enough heat for sublimation eliminates 95% of the water present.1 It can take industrial freeze dry machines several days to achieve this. A partial vacuum controls the pressure, while condenser plates or a special chamber are used to allow water vapor to solidify. Vapor, therefore, does not reach the vacuum pump, and condenser temperatures below -58°F are maintained.
- Secondary drying: Since the ice has already been removed, the goal now is to remove any remaining unfrozen water molecules. The temperature is raised, sometimes to above 32°F, to break any connections between water molecules and the material that has been frozen. Also, the pressure is often lowered to promote desorption, but sometimes the pressure may be increased. Once complete, the freeze-drying process is ended by breaking the vacuum; nitrogen is often used to accomplish this before the freeze-dried material is sealed.
Parker Freeze Dry’s products are designed to achieve each of these stages. Each machine type ranges in the number of trays and carts, usable shelf area, and ice condenser capacity. The versatility and ease of use of our equipment, which is available at affordable prices, enables customers to attain the properties required in freeze-dried products. Whether customers’ goals are achieved with our standard or custom-sized commercial freeze dryers, these properties remain constant until the product is rehydrated.
A sealed freeze-dried product can remain preserved at room temperature for many years. There is no need to refrigerate it. Spoilage is unlikely to occur, due to the inhibition of enzymes and microorganisms responsible for this process.
Also, compared to dehydration methods using high temperatures, freeze-drying is less damaging and doesn’t ordinarily cause a product to shrink or toughen. There are also naturally occurring molecules that protect freeze-dried compounds; these lycoprotectants include sugars and polyalcohols (trehalose is produced by plants, fungi, and invertebrates able to achieve states of suspended animation in difficult environmental conditions).
Rehydrating a freeze-dried product is generally a quick process. The ice crystals that were sublimated leave microscopic pores and gaps. This enables pharmaceuticals to remain viable for several years before they are rehydrated and used.
The Differences Between Parker Freeze Dry Machines: A freeze drier, according to the Institute of Food Technologies (IFT), consists of a condenser, vacuum system, refrigeration components, and product chamber. The control system enables users to manage the entire process. The differences of Parker’s systems include:
- Custom-sized machines
- Support for small-scale applications
- Commercial production machines
- Use of Rapid Fire Technology
- An understanding of customer needs
We can accommodate a wide range of commercial freeze dryer applications as well, whether you need to preserve food products or manage an industrial operation. To make things easier, we’ve included the Throughput Calculator on our website, which automatically selects the appropriate model based on the capacity and product entered by the user.
In the case of food, freeze drying usually preserves flavor and smell. It also preserves nutritional content, although a loss of other compounds capable of sublimation, such as alcohols and acetic acid (vinegar), can affect food quality.
- Food Processing: A commercial freeze dryer can be used for solid and liquid foods (as noted by New Food Magazine). Fruits and vegetables, for example, can be placed directly in the machine or frozen prior to being loaded. They can be dried whole or cut or sliced, which reduces drying time and can improve their appearance and the rehydration process. Liquid food, often concentrated beforehand to remove water, is often cut before it is frozen. Once loaded on a freeze-drying tray, food items undergo the process outlined above; a greater surface area exposed aids in the success of the process, while smaller dimensions support more aggressive heating without degradation.
Freeze drying is used for:
- Baby food
- Food flavorings
- Products intended for breakfast cereals
- Pharmaceuticals: Freeze drying is used by pharmaceutical companies for a variety of reasons. Removing the water from a material makes storage and shipment easier. It can then be quickly reconstituted to make it injectable, or tablets and wafers can be produced in a form that is rapidly absorbed into the body. A pharmaceutical company may also increase the shelf life of live virus vaccines and biologics. Vaccines such as those for the measles virus, typhoid, and others are stored this way, while industrial freeze dry machines are suited for creating lyophilized powders for self-administered pre-filled syringes. Lyophilization is also used to stabilize monoclonal antibodies. It is applied to anti-blood clot medicines and wasp anti-venom. Probiotics are often shipped as dry powders that have been freeze dried, including those with live microorganisms.
- Laboratory and Testing: In laboratories, a material can be freeze-dried to seal it in a glass vial. It is required to preserve the chemical structure of heat-sensitive materials like blood plasma, proteins, and enzymes. Lyophilization is often used in the Research and Development sector, in which sensitive materials are used in pharmaceutical and other forms of research, and in producing and packaging nutraceuticals or nutritional dietary supplements.
- Industry: Batch freeze dryers are common for industrial applications, and semi-continuous dryers allow for intermittent insertion and withdrawal of materials. More advanced industrial freeze dry machines are equipped for feeding, concentrating, freezing, cutting, and sieving material, as well as handling final dry products.
In the technology sector, the process is used to stabilize products or make them dissolvable in water. It is implemented to purify materials during bio-separation, to remove solvents, and to concentrate low molecular weight substances that can’t ordinarily be removed by conventional filtration. Other uses for freeze-drying include:
- Recovery of water-damaged documents and books, although differences in materials (especially those that expand at non-uniform rates) can adversely affect the outcome.
- Ceramics, in which a sprayed slurry mist is used to create a formable powder; this yields softer particles uniform in chemical composition.
- Preservation of bacteriological strains for laboratory applications.
- Freeze drying food, to be sealed and packed in cans, which can last for 25 years or more.2
- A form of burial in which the body is freeze-dried with liquid nitrogen, as an alternative to cremation and traditional burial.
Freeze drying is also used for preserving flowers for decorating, particularly for memorials and weddings, and to preserve animal remains for laboratories and museums. It is also used to preserve pets for those who choose this method.
High-Quality, Reliable, and Dependable Freeze Dry Machines from Parker
Parker Freeze Dry has engineered commercial freeze dryer equipment for its own purposes. We aim to help customers find the equipment that meets their exact needs while being as affordable as possible. Our team works with each customer to find a machine or have one customized for their application. Quality control is the top priority, from development to shipping within the continental U.S. and internationally. Our dedicated and experienced team can:
- Design and manufacture freeze dry machines that meet or are built to meet customer specifications.
- Honor 12-month warranties and longer agreements identified by manufacturers while upholding service quality.
- Install and commission equipment at the customer’s facility, ensuring all systems are working as designed.
- Train the client’s staff to properly and safely use equipment and get the most out of their application.
- Designate an account executive who serves as a point of contact from sales through post-delivery.
In fact, same-day parts shipping is available regardless of whether the machine is under warranty. After-sales services are provided long after purchase, as we’re able to maintain equipment to ensure it remains functional, efficient, and reliable. We can supply a commercial freeze dryer that accommodates the most sensitive of applications and meets your capacity, throughput, temperature range, and other needs.
View our inventory on the Web, contact us online, or call 636-387-7703 for assistance in finding the most suitable equipment for your business and application.