The food processing industry exists at the nexus between food, energy, and water systems. Improving the sustainability of this industry is critical to reduction of carbon emissions and enhanced utilization of vital resources such as water. The overarching aim of the present research is to create a process-based modeling platform for food processing systems that would allow the most appropriate combination of water-sustainable, energy-efficient, and renewable energy (WERE) technologies to be determined for a system. This paper focuses on one specific process in a thermal processing line: the cooling step after sterilization and prior to packaging. A typical process might use groundwater in a once-through loop. To reduce water use, two sustainable alternatives are considered and compared: (a) solar thermal coupled with an absorption chiller and (b) evaporative cooling of chilled water using a sub-wet bulb evaporative chiller (SWEC). The former uses a parabolic trough solar field with thermal storage that is connected to a single-effect water/lithium bromide (LiBr) chiller. The field and thermal storage are modeled using NREL’s System Advisor Model software and coupled to in-house Python code for the chiller and process heat exchanger. For the latter option, a novel SWEC is used as a chiller. The energy and water use, and capital cost of the two alternative technologies are presented.

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