The AEF technology. Summary

TheAEF Acoustic Extra Freezing (AEF) technology ensures that products after freezing with acoustic waves can be stored in regular freezers at -18C storage temperature for 15 months without any loss of quality. The AEF system can be built into a convenient freezer.


Meals made of the AEF products have the same taste and liquid filling as made of the freshones. The AEF products contain 15% more liquid after cooking or processing compared to the Shock Freezing technology.


In contrast to the shock freezing, there is no ice mass separation from the food in 30-50 days. The process of crystal splicing and structure demolition starts no sooner than in 15 months. Before that the product’s cells remain mostly intact.

What can you freeze without quality loss?

Vegetables for further cooking – to be fried, baked, stewed or boiled (you can make even mashed potatoes!)
Fish, meat, pastry, ready-to-cook food, cooked meals
Meat and fish can be slightly frozen for cutting
Vegetables shouldn’t be defrosted before cooking

Vegetables

Potatoes (slices, strips, mini potatoes, peeled mini potatoes and other potatoes)
Carrots (strips, sliced, diced, mini carrots)
Green beans
Corn
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Other vegetables

Berries

Blueberry
Raspberry
Strawberry
Blackberry
Mango
Other berries
The difference between the AEF technology and the shock freezing is that after the AEF
process the berries taste like fresh ones, while after the shock freezing berries obtain a specific
sour taste.

Fish, Shrimps, Seafood, Caviar

Any kind of fish or sea food: steaks, fillets, and the whole fish or shrimps. Fish and shrimps can be frozen without any glaze.

Caviar can be packed and frozen in the AEF system in plastic or glass containers, put to storage at -18C and defrosted just before usage. Thus the caviar keeps the taste and texture of the fresh one.

The AEF processed fish can be frozen, then defrosted and sold as the chilled one.

The AEF system should get only fresh (not frozen) fish for work that is why the system should be installed on ships having warehouses with a temperature of -18C and with the fresh fish cutting technology. Alternatively, the system could be installed on the shore near the water basin where the fish is bred in captivity or on onshore factories getting fresh fish for processing.

If the fish was frozen on ships in shock freezing systems (air or panel), the use of refreezing with the AEF system can save the quality of a single freeze (without double frost).

Meat

Any kind of meat - beef, lamb, poultry, etc. Portioned meat products, fillet or meat with bones.

For example, ready-to-cook products of lamb can be cut, frozen, delivered from production place and then sold as chilled ones because the quality loss of the product is so insignificant, that the buyer or even a chef of the restaurant would not find the difference. Meat delicacies should be slightly frozen before cutting. Using the AEF system for slight freezing excludes the loss of moisture.

Pastry, Meat and fish ready-to-cook food

Ready-to-cook food, just like cooked meals can be frozen in the AEF system and the quality after defrosting won’t differ from the freshly cooked ones. Together with our clients we’ve made lots of experiments to prove it. Particularly the sushi and rolls quality was approved by chain restaurants. The in-flight meals quality was marked as incredibly high by Vnukovo airport’s food service.

Unfortunately, freezing fresh vegetables which can be eaten without cooking and returning to their original condition after being defrost is not possible yet. The exception is chopped green stuff which can be used as flavoring while cooking.

Storage

All the AEF products should be kept in vacuum packages, which prevent the ice sublimation and drying of the outer side of the product (cold sublimation). Such packages also prevent freezing of moisture from the air. However you can keep products and without vacuum packages if planned storage time and seiling conditions allow.

Some technical details

What happens to water with different freezing methods?

The result of the AEF process is shaping ice crystals of nano-size inside cells, up to 100 times less than cell size. Conversely, the IQF (Individual Quick Freezing) process produces big ice crystals damaging cells.

This is the shock frozen meat of carp under microscope (picture 1).
(Frozen for 120 minutes under -25 C)

Picture 1

PICTURE 1

Forming ice crystals generally have middle and large size, which are comparable with the sizeof muscle fiber diameter or slightly larger. The majority of the ice crystals are located inside the muscle fibers vastly deforming them (picture 3). Ice crystals in muscle fiber take slightly less than 40% of the volume. Let’s remember that 40 % of the carp’s frozen muscle fiber is occupied by the ice.

And now let’s have a look at the ice growth in shock freezer with the AEF system.

Picture 2

PICTURE 2

process. AEF freezing produce up to 33 % less volume of ice than the shock freezing (including IQF).


Less ice requires less time for freezing. The experiments prove that shock freezer with installed AEF system reduces the freezing time for 15%.
Now let’s have a look at the photos of ice in another mode.


The islets of ice after the AEF process are full of tiny ice balls (picture 3).




Picture 3


The islets of ice after shock freezing are homogeneous with rare exceptions (picture 4).



Picture 4

In picture 4 you can see smooth edges of the ice crystals which are different from jagged edges of crystals in Picture 3. Smooth edges in Picture 4 are the crystal formation fronts of the whole crystal. In Picture 3 there are no whole crystals but the cluster of the small ones (which fronts can’t be seen because of the insufficient microscope resolution).


The main advantage of the AEF is that it takes control of the micro ice crystals formation.Bound water stay bound and all the useful substances of the product do not dehydrate.


Inorganic substances dissolved in water return back into the water after defrosting. But the bound water which was forced to separate after shock freezing does not return to its original state and it also does not interact with dehydrated fats and proteins.

Water retention capacity of fibers is 15 % higher in the AEF than in the IQF (shock freezing). During the fish and vegetables processing the AEF provides with 15 % of additional weight of the finished product relatively to any shock freezing, including dry, individual (IQF), or panel type.


For example, if you catch 1000 tons of salmon, freeze it in on a board chamber, then ship it for processing and make it smoked, and you can get 700 tons of products. Using the AEF system you can get 850 tons of smoked fish. This result is the same as with the fresh fish processing.


After the AEF processing of bell pepper into lecso you can also get 15 % more of the finished product.


A 15 % higher water retention capacity of the AEF vegetables allows cooking grilled vegetables in contrast of the shock freezed ones which lose their moisture immediately and become unsuitable for cooking.


Why is the amount of ice in AEF product – 30 %, in shock freezing (or IQF) - 40 %; and the difference is 33 %, but in finished product the difference in weight is less and it’s equal to 15 %?

That’s because there’s not only water in the product but also some fibers that can’t be frozen and during cooking process they don’t leave the product like water does.

The freezing speed

With the AEF system, the freezing speed in shock freezers increases by 15% (the less ice you have the faster freezing is). However, there are some details which can prevent from getting such speeding.

If the freezing takes place in a freezer tunnel so all the parts of the tunnel are chilled to the temperature of freezing. The incoming portion of fresh product requires energy only for cooling the product itself.


Another point is freezing in shock freezers or panel freezers. In this case you have to freeze both the product and the equipment (panels, carts) every time. Sometimes the weight of the equipment is twice as much as that of freezing products.

Fresh fish every day

After freezing fish in the AEF system and defrosting it, there is no differences to the chilled one in terms of taste and even appearance. That’s why it is possible to sell it as the chilled one and set the price higher. That is the reason why this super acoustic freezing technology was called – “Alive Taste”.


Fish defrosting


It is possible to defrost fish under usual conditions - at room temperature. Defrosting in cool (including running) water is also possible. You can use professional defrosters either.

Vegetables defrosting

You cannot defrost vegetables under usual conditions. The lack of fats in fibers and having water filled vacuoles leads to re-crystallization during the process of defrosting. Small ice crystals grow into larger ones and destruct the fibers. That’s the case of potato becoming sweet and soft.
The AEF – Live Taste - vegetables should be cooked or processed without defrosting: in a preheated oven, on a hot frying pan or in boiling water. However, you should cook all the frozen vegetables in such ways no matter how they were frozen.

How it works technically

At first products are frozen in a shock chamber with the AEF system installed, and then we store them in regular freezers at -18C.

The AEF system consists of two parts.

The first one is a regular freezer (shock freezing chamber). It can be air, panel (vertical or horizontal) or liquid (including the alcohol one). The  construction of spiral and horizontal tunnel
is also possible.


The second part is acousters of the AEF which are installed inside the shock freezer operating with acoustic waves on the product during the whole freezing cycle. The acousters are managed by the Ice Processor with special programs. The program can be customized for every kind of products (vegetables, mushrooms, fish, meat, ready-to-cook food, cooked meals, cuttings, etc.).





Picture 5 Installing in a fish processing plant


On the left, there is a shock chamber with installed acousters and entry rails for carts. On the right, there is an Ice Processor.


In contrast to a regular freezing, after the AEF process ice crystals grow together no sooner than in 15 months (with the temperature of storage -18C), as the orientation of micro-crystals by the end of the freezing process is such that the fronts of the crystal formation do not create a complementary pair and prevent the re-crystallization.

The obvious difference of products is visible on the pictures below. Zucchini is used for illustration purposes. All the same happens in the body of a fish, but the difference is not so visible. The difference in the body of vegetables is more obvious – the ice crystals grow together and leave the cell membranes.






Picture 6 Comparison of the AEF and the shock freezing after a long storage period.

A shock frozen zucchini after 6 months’ storage (the right one) and the AEF zucchini after 15 months’ storage (the left one).


The weight loss of a cooked vegetable meal after shock freezing in relation to the AEF is 15 %.



Picture 7 Two pieces of the same fish are presented. The left one is IQF, the right one is the
AEF.

The two fish steaks were cooked under the same conditions, to the same degree of readiness on one pan (after 14 days of storage in -18C).


The right sample (AEF) has kept the size, the appearance and the taste of the cooked fresh fish. The weight loss of a cooked fish meal after shock freezing relatively AEF is 15 %.

Energy consumption of the AEF system do not exceed 200 W for 1m³ in a batch action freezing system (chamber or panel systems) and 300 W for tunnels.
The AEF system doesn’t need any service. It hasn’t got any moving parts and it can work for 10 years without preventive services. The working algorithm is controlled by the Ice Processor control, with the program downloaded from computer via USB of by air. Any program updates
or connection of additional sensors (the ice testing ones) can be done within minutes by manufacturer's representative.


Installation warranty is 3 years. After 3 years of working any service is not necessary. As the process of algorithm improvement continues, you can subscribe for the AEF software updates.


The manufacturer has all the necessary repair parts. Any kind of repairing (except complex mechanical damages) can be done in 2-3 hours. Even if 25% of acousters became disabled, the system can be temporarily reprogrammed for an emergency mode with higher energy consumption and it can work for 30 days in such mode.

The Ice Processor has a double reservation of main modules and even the failure of one part does not make it to decrease the efficiency. AEF system can use 110V(50-60Hz) or 240 V (50-60 Hz).



On left plate you see IQF frozen food. On right – beauty of AEF food.

Counterparts and competitors

There is a similar freezing system (in Japan) with a significantly higher price level compared to the AEF. Moreover, the quality of AEF frozen product is higher (it was checked in comparison with a Japanese sample).


Anyone can make products freezing quality tests in our laboratory system which can freeze up to 6 kilos of product per 180 minutes. The laboratory is in Moscow not far from Shchukinskaya metro station, on the territory of Federal Medical Biological Agency.


What is the secret of the acoustic freezing?


The secret is in special sound waves which resonate to the products, control the ice crystalsgrowth and limit their size.


The sound waves seem to break growing ice crystals and not let damage the fibers of the product. The system is based on the newest microprocessor technologies and researches in Cryobiology and Crystallography


The comparative results of frozen rainbow trout which was made in the Institute of meat industry of Gorbatov

The AEF system

The microstructure of rainbow trout sample (a trout frozen in the AEF system) is
characterized by straight, slightly deformed thin muscle fibers. Cross striation of the fibers is
well expressed. The ice crystals are mostly located between the bundles of fibers and individual
fibers, less as narrow cavities of fiber groups slightly loosen up the layout of the muscle fiber.
In some places the formation of individual ice crystals is indicated within individual fibers
mostly with a thickness of 10-25 microns.

The IQF system

During the micro structural study of a rainbow trout samples frozen in shock chamber IQF (individual shock freezing) it is stated that the muscle fibers are damaged as a consequence of large cavities formation between the bundles and groups of muscle fibers that loosen up the muscle layout, length of 250-400 microns. The formation of ice crystals under the sarcolemma is detected everywhere within the muscle fibers with a length of 50-100 microns. The muscle fibers integration is destructed. Sometimes destructive changes of muscle fibers are identified in the form of cross cracks. Grained protein mass is detected in the areas of fibers destruction. The data shows that after-freezing microstructure changes are characterized by damage to the morphological elements of the tissues, changing the overall appearance and thickness of muscle fibers, membrane systems cells disorder, as well as the formation of a new structural component - water crystals.

Pictures of the rainbow trout muscle fiber taken in the VNIRO Institute




Picture A - not frozen (fresh) sample of the rainbow trout muscle fiber
Picture B – muscle fiber damaged by the IQF. The destruction of the fibers is seen
everywhere
Picture C – after using the AEF, fiber is almost the same with not frozen one. It demonstrates
some single ice micro crystals which can melt without damaging the fiber.
Pay attention to the fact that the sample in the picture A is not frozen and thus has no ice
crystals.


The conclusion of the laboratory: different research methods show that the AEF technology
allows getting a product more similar in acidity, the amount of protein and microscopic
structure of the fiber to fresh fish, which leads to obtaining a product of higher quality.

What are the parts of the AEF system and its variants?

The air construction is a conventional refrigeration chamber technology with -40C inside (the cold in the chamber is injected with external compressors). The acousters, as frames of
stainless steel AISI 0304, are built inside. The cables, with the required set of signals from the outside the chamber Ice Processor, are brought to the acousters. The acousters and the Ice Processor are waterproof.


The acousters are installed inside the freezing chamber. The trolleys with the product for freezing are put inside the acousters. The production capacity is from 150 kilos per hour. The
chamber is set up right on the place of usage and can’t be moved without being disassembled. The size of the chamber is 3*3*2, 7 m.


The second chamber type is a freezing tunnel of 10-40 m. length. The air in the tunnel is chilled to -40C. The cold in the tunnel is pressurized by dint of external compressors. The  fresh product is placed on one end of a vibrating or an ordinary transporter coming through the tunnel and freezes to the temperature of -18C as it moves on the belt to the end of the tunnel. After that it can be packed in bags, carton boxes or packets at the end of the tunnel. The process is similar to the chamber’s one. It also has built-in transmitters which are connected to the Ice Processor. The Ice Processor has different modes. The productivity of the tunnel starts from 1 ton per hour. The tunnel can’t be moved without being disassembled. The size of the tunnel is 3*30*2.7 m.


The third type is a spiral tunnel. It has some peculiarities of production and installing of the AEF system. The spiral tunnel should have a mini tunnel inside to let the AEF system transmit different acoustic signals at different freezing phases.

The forth type is a panel freezing system. It can also be produced with the AEF system or modified of the ones you have (vertical or horizontal) Every product type has its own Ice Processor software settings. Ice Processor is set to the same mode with a freezer.

The cost of the system and production time

The cost of a typical air frost AEF system with productivity 2-5 tons per day is about 7,5 million rubles. It includes a shock freezing chamber – 2,5 million rubles and the pre-installed
AEF system inside - 5 million rubles. The AEF system controls the ice formation. The productivity of the whole system depends on the capacity of compressors and air stream
velocity in the chamber (for air freezing system). In panel systems the freezing productivity depends on the capacity of the compressors. The AEF system can be installed in any existing shock freezing chamber with minimum changes of previous construction. In case of the lower productivity the cost of the freezing equipment can be reduced up to 2 million rubles. This is an optimal decision for products of low density and small size (chopped bell pepper, mushrooms, berries, sea urchin roe and other similar products). Any kind of existing shock freezing chamber can be completed with the AEF system.

Production time – 30 business days


The AEF freezing: is it a theory or practice?


We already produce and install the system to our clients for various applications on groundbased
or naval locations. You can estimate the quality if you buy Live Taste™ products in
METRO C&C.



Picture 8

Photo gallery




Fried perch fillet (12 month of non-vacuum storage)

 

New potatoes (6 month)

Sliced potato (without blanching and sulfiting)

 


Frozen and ready mashed potatoes (only potatoes)



A line chart of salmon fillet temperature decrease in shock freezer with the AEF system (the blue one) and without it (the red one). The growth of freezing speed depends on the amount of ice in the product. In both cases 250 kilos of fish fillet was put into the chamber. The initial temperature is the same.



A comparative chart of IQF and AEF preliminary freezing of meat delicacies for further cutting. Fast temperature fall and short cycle of ice formation considerably improves the quality of the product, retains moisture as in the original product (blue chart is for AEF)

Frozen gammon of bacon. The left one is frozen with the IQF system. The right one is frozen with the AEF system. In the case of shock freezing there is a strong dissection of muscle fibers.

As for the AEF, it has fully preserved the muscle fiber structure.