As the market and technology leader, PROBAT claims to lead the way. For the company, corporate responsibility is not just a buzzword, but a global obligation. It reflects the aspiration to shape the coffee society in a sustainable way that goes beyond legal requirements. The carbon-intensive nature of traditional roasting has hampered the industry’s ability to reduce its environmental impact for many years. To make coffee processing ecologically friendlier, PROBAT is pushing electrical and hydrogen roasting in the specialty roaster segment. The roasting machine manufacturer is also the pioneer in introducing hydrogen in industrial roasters and offers many more sustainable solutions for the entire roasting process.
To learn more about PROBAT's scalable solutions for the use of alternative energy sources in roasting processes, read on.
There are areas where the utilization of gas is no option for safety reasons. Also, environmental issues have become more and more of a focus within the coffee industry. However, the demand for consistent and reproducible roasting results has remained the same around the globe. PROBAT has equipped its specialty roasters with a unique electrical hot-air technology that meets these requirements in equal measure: When using electricity for the roasting process, less emissions are set free. Secondly, the built-in hot air blower reacts as immediately as a gas burner without any delay in response time: It neither needs any time to cool down nor to heat up, like traditional electrical heating elements.
The point is to differentiate between the heating technology deployed in each case. The heating device used by PROBAT behaves like a hair dryer. When you turn it on, it produces hot air without delay. Conversely, the hot air supply is interrupted as soon as you turn it off. That makes it extremely flexible.
Technically speaking, there are electrical heating units available that could deliver the high amount of energy needed to power large roasting machines. However, the infrastructural requirements are often a challenge when the on-site power grid cannot permanently meet the necessary energy demand. Linking the process-related energy requirement to the volatile availabilities in the power grid would be one solution, but this would require precise capacity planning. Currently, PROBAT considers electrically heated roasters with a batch size of up to 60kg to be economically viable.
The outer appearance of the roaster is exactly the same just as the roasting result. Looking inside, you can see that the burner is different and therefore requires another heating furnace. In addition, the gas route of hydrogen differs from that of natural gas, because the valves and materials used must be approved for hydrogen. The software was also specially designed, as hydrogen is mixed with air, and the burner, therefore, has to be controlled differently. For the customer, however, all this is irrelevant, because the roaster's mode of operation is the same, as is the required heating capacity. He gets a complete solution from PROBAT – and this applies to specialty as well as industrial roasters.
No. There is no difference in taste at all! The heat source has no influence on the development of flavor profiles, whether natural gas, hydrogen, or electricity. Guests at the two-day CONNECTING MARKETS Symposium in September last year were able to see this for themselves, with hydrogen coffee being served throughout.
Since there have been a lot of retrofit requests from customers for hydrogen so far, PROBAT has developed a retrofit kit for the specialty roasters, as well as options for industrial machines.
For smaller specialty roasters, it is relatively simple because you can work with bottled hydrogen or with a tank that is filled by the hydrogen provider at regular intervals. In both cases, a separate pipeline network must be installed within the roastery, including monitoring sensors to identify any leaks in good time. Regarding the infrastructure on site for industrial roasting plants, completely different requirements have to be met here in order to operate a roasting machine permanently and reliably with hydrogen. You need a tank or pipeline system and a corresponding supply network. This is not a problem wherever a hydrogen network already exists today, such as in regions that locate chemical industrial plants, for example, where hydrogen is a waste product and has already been used for decades. Everywhere else, a corresponding infrastructure must first be built. In areas with a lot of wind energy, such as on the coasts, there are currently approaches to setting up hydrogen networks, in order to produce green hydrogen for local use. In individual cases, it may also make economic sense to build an electrolyzer for own use.
The volume-related energy density of liquid hydrogen is about 1/3 that of natural gas. Therefore, a larger volume of hydrogen is required to get the same amount of energy. The exact consumption depends on the roaster's mode of operation and must be evaluated individually. However, roasting one 1kg of coffee always requires the same amount of energy, regardless of whether gas, LPG, H2, biogas, or electricity is used.
There are many types of hydrogen, each referring to how it is produced. Hydrogen emits only water when burned, but its production can be very carbon-intensive. The hydrogen available today is mainly produced from fossil fuels with CO2 release. Therefore, its use merely shifts the emissions. Green hydrogen remains far off from being a significant contributor to the global energy supply, but would be the only real climate-friendly type. It is CO2-neutral because it is made using clean electricity from renewable energy technologies (wind, water, solar) by electrolyzing water, separating the hydrogen atom within it from its molecular twin oxygen. The true challenge indeed is the supply of renewable energy in sufficient quantity. The amount of green hydrogen needed to power large roasting plants is huge as opposed to specialty roasters. The more hydrogen you need, the more renewable energy must be obtainable for producing the green variant.
A hydrogen-powered roaster is recommended for those looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of fossil gases and still want to achieve perfect roasting results regardless of the size of the roasting system. However, if green electricity is available on site, an electrical specialty roaster is just as eco-friendly and delivers a just as consistently high coffee quality. For industrial roasting processes, grid stability poses a problem, so here, hydrogen is the more sustainable solution as opposed to fossil gas. Customers are welcome to test hydrogen roasting on the P05 available for that purpose in the PROBAT R&D Center in Emmerich.
Customers are welcome to test hydrogen and electrical roasting on the P05 specialty roasters available for that purpose in the PROBAT R&D Center in Emmerich.
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