Belt drying lines for the production of high quality gelatin

Gelatin is pure protein and is colorless or slightly yellow, it is nearly tasteless and odorless. Gelatin is made from fish, pig skins and bovine bones. It is commonly used in food, pharmaceutical, photography and cosmetic manufacturing industry. Gelatin is also known as number E441.

Gelatin has a unique characteristic, it melts when heated up but solidifies again when cooled down. Together with water it forms a semi-solid colloidal gel and sticks enormously.

The production of gelatin helps to make the meat processing industry more sustainable as all waste streams are turned into useful products. Gelatin is produced in a complex, multi-stage process using high-tech industrial equipment. The high quality standards for gelatin are ensured through the choice of raw materials and the production process.

Gelatin belt dryer
Tema process belt dryer

The primary applications for raw material gelatin

Gelatin is mainly used in the food industry, pharmaceutical products or used as an industrial application.

Examples for the food industries:
  • Candy bars
  • Marshmallows
  • Yoghurt
  • Pudding
  • Sausages
  • Pâté
Examples for the pharmaceutical industries:
  • Production of hard and soft capsules
  • Coating of tablets
  • Encapsulation of vitamins
Examples for the industrial application:
  • Adhesive tapes
  • Matches
  • Bank notes

Scope of supply for the gelatin industry

  • Extruder or votator to transform gelatin from liquid to solid state
  • Chiller with buffer tank and pump for the votator
  • Belt dryer to dry gelatin to 10 to 12% moisture content
  • Milling and grinding dry gelatin
  • Metal detection systems for dry gelatin
  • Dehumidifier for supplying cold, dry and bacteria free air to the belt dryer
  • Hot water system to maximize the belt dryer output
  • Heat pump system to minimize the total energy consumption
  • PLC control and automation systems including visualization or SCADA systems

Hygienic Design for Bacteria-Sensitive Gelatin Processing

As gelatin is very bacteria sensitive the belt dryer is designed as hygienic as possible. Perforated plate segments can be cleaned using water. The dirty water can be drained through a gutter which will be integrated in the concrete floor of the dryer.

The air used for the gelatin drying process needs to be filtered, cleaned and dehumidified first, our liquid desiccant dehumidifier is a perfect solution for these process steps (see dehumidification with a salt solution). Dehumidified air passes the gelatin layer in a downstream and upstream flow in order to dry the gelatin with a maximum uniformity.

By continuously controlling the airflow, temperature and humidity during the gelatin drying process the product output capacity will be maximized and the energy consumption will be minimized.

gelatin belt dryer schema

Milling and Grinding dry gelatin

At the end of the belt dryer the dry gelatin will be grinded into large pieces. The rough grinder is integrated in the drive frame of the gelatin dryer. These pieces of 10 to 20 mm. are transported to one side of the belt dryer using a vibrating chute.

With an additional fine grinder, the coarse gelatin is milled dust-free and in free-flowing qualities. Grinding process fineness values are common between the 8 and 40 µm. After milling the dry gelatin powder is distributed to the blending department using a pneumatic transport system.

miling gelatine
Metal detection

Metal detection

Our gelatin drying lines can be implemented with a free fall metal detection system. This free-fall metal detection systems benefit from a very high sensitivity for the detection of all types of metal. Our powder metal detectors are designed with a range of high-speed reject mechanisms to remove metal-contaminated products from the manufacturing process.

Dehumidifying with a salt solution

The Tema Process air dehumidifiers have been developed for cooling, dehumidification and microbiological decontamination of industrial process air. These reliable systems ensure a constant humidity and constant air temperature throughout the year, regardless of outside air conditions or fluctuations in the indoor climate. Dehumidification as low as 15% relative humidity can be reached at low temperatures (-20 to +40°C).

The Tema Process dehumidifier is using a Lithium Chloride salt solution as absorbent. Lithium Chloride is a very strong salt and has an equilibrium curve which closely follows the relative humidity curve of air. The process air will enter the countercurrent dehumidifier and will be dehumidified or humidified in order to maintain this equilibrium. In other words the sprayed salt concentration will control the outlet air relative humidity. By cooling the salt solution before spraying we are able to cool down the air temperature. In this way air temperature and air humidity are both controlled in the same system but can be adjusted independently.

The Tema Process dehumidifier

As moisture is continuously absorbed by the salt solution inside the dehumidifier, it becomes diluted and slowly loses drying capacity. To evaporate this surplus of moisture the absorbent is pumped to the regenerator unit. Here the process is turned around, so by heating up the salt solution, moisture is released to an outside air stream and exhausted. The salt solution is continuously pumped between the units in order to provide precise conditions to the process.

Lithium Chloride is a chemically stable, non-toxic, non-vaporizing salt solution which acts as a biocide to mold, bacteria and micro-organisms. Beyond its physical desiccant nature Lithium Chloride is also an effective antifreeze.

Advantages of a belt dryer in the gelatin industry

  • Multiple drying zones with adjustable air volumes, temperature and humidity control will result into the highest thermal efficiency and gentle drying conditions
  • Hygienic design, fully stainless steel execution, dryer can be cleaned easily
  • Maximized product output with minimized energy consumption. Multiple heat recovery systems possible.
  • Heating can be realized using hot water, heat pump systems, steam, indirect natural gas heaters and thermal oil
  • Custom-made solutions: the product capacity and drying behavior, belt type, air control system and available heating media are input data for the best solution
  • After drying product can be cooled down inline
  • Preassembled parts in workshop assures easy and minimized field installation tim


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    Hot water system

    One of the key advantages of the TEMA belt dryer is the possibility to run on a hot water system instead of steam. As our belt dryer is using multiple drying zones which are all equipped with their own heating coil it’s easy to reheat the cooled down and saturated air again. The approach temperature between water and the desired air temperature is designed as small as possible. This kind of heating will result in a more accurate temperature control and helps achieving a uniform air temperature inside the whole drying zone.

    Big advantage of such an accurate air control system is that you prevent wet gelatin spots. These spots can occur when certain areas are drying slower because of a lower air temperature for example. It can also create case hardening when the gelatin dries too fast and air temperatures are too high. This means the outside layer is already completely dried out but inside the gelatin is still wet. The outside layer will form a shell and water is not able to migrate to the outside anymore.

    Extra benefit because of using this lower temperatures is less heat loss and therefore an energetically better system. To optimize the temperature control even more we can install a water injection system on every heating coil. By doing this we create a constant waterflow over the coils and vary the water temperature.

    To heat up the hot water system multiple installations can be used: steam, gas fired or thermal oil if available. From an energy point of view it’s very interesting to use an electrical heat pump system.

    The additional “free” chilled water from the heat pump can be used for the dehumidifier.

    Sensors, control panel and visualization

    control panel

    The Tema Process control panel will steer, manage, calculate, control, monitor and protect the complete solution. These can be mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and/or pneumatic sensors, dampers and valves. They are all connected to the PLC control system, which can be easily integrated into the complete industrial automation system of your factory.

    We have the experience with

    • Programming of different PLC brands (mostly Siemens or Rockwell, Allen Bradley)
    • Visualization of production processes by means of HMI and/or SCADA
    • Remote control and can be linked to building management systems

    Commitment to Sustainability

    At TEMA Process, sustainability is at the core of our operations.Our innovative drying and processing solutions are meticulously engineered to reduce environmental impact, while enhancing efficiency and productivity. By transforming residual products and waste into valuable resources we support the circular economy and contribute to a greener future.

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