“Although crops in vertical farms have a highly controlled environment, cooling remains an essential part of the entire growing process needed to guarantee the preservation of the product quality for its end consumers,” shares Sylvia van Uden, Sales manager at Weber Cooling.
Weber Cooling is a Dutch company that specializes in cooling solutions for indoor- and vertical farming growers globally. Weber Cooling operates worldwide and has a wide network of partners that allow them to work locally and rapidly.
Front view of a cooling chamber
Removing quality risks
A very important asset of cooling is preserving the freshly harvested produce, which after harvesting, is still alive and without roots. Meaning that they will turn into a state of stress, respiration, and transpiring much. Though, the only way to reduce that stress is by getting the produce to sleep by reducing their temperature as fast as possible to a “hibernation state,” which is around 1-4° C (34-39F) for most produce.
The benefits of vacuum cooling
That automatically brings us to the next point. As for vertical farms, vacuum cooling is the best pre-cooling solution Sylvia points out. As it not only cools down to 3-5C (37-40F)very swiftly to stabilize the product but also helps remove a small percentage of free moisture. This will ensure control condensation and reduce the chances of fungus, such as Botrytis.
Side view of a cooling chamber by Weber Cooling
Besides, that vacuum cooling will keep fresh products cool while reducing the pressure in the room. “The lower the pressure, the lower the boiling point of water. When the pressure reaches the temperature of the product, a small quantity of water in the product will boil,” Sylvia notes. For this process, you need energy, and the only source in the room is the heat of the product.
In this way, the product is cooled. Cycle times are fast, between 10 and 25 minutes. The fast removal of free moisture is an additional benefit! In all, vacuum cooling will help reduce waste, keep the vegetables fresh, extend shelf life and improve the grower’s cold chain.
Get your own demo
This year, Weber Cooling will attend the first edition of the VertiFarm show in Dortmund from 27 to 29 September. The Weber team will be present to show how vacuum cooling works. With a small testing machine in the booth, growers will be able to see how the technology works.