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Armfield - Miniature-Scale Research & Development Technology - FT174X Modular Miniature-scale HTST/UHT Process System

The FT174X is a modular HTST/UHT processing system designed to treat products at flow rates of 12-40 l/hr or up to 60 l/hr for water (or similar low viscosity products). Standard modules for direct heating (steam injection) or indirect heating (using tubular and/or plate heat exchangers), aseptic processing, upstream or downstream homogenisation and additional chilling are available. These, along with many other options, enable multiple modules to be included in the same system, giving high process adaptability by reconfiguration of flexible product hoses, using quick-release connections. The sterilisation options enable it to be linked to an Armfield sterile filling bench to produce aseptic product, even when using long holding tubes and/or downstream homogenisation. As with all Armfield systems, it comes with hygienic fittings throughout as standard, it is easy to clean and very flexible in use. The touchscreen control panel makes it extremely user friendly to configure and monitor processing parameters. The operator is prompted at every stage whenever intervention is required.

The base unit comprises a stainless steel table for mounting the process equipment, a feed pump and vessel, the touchscreen control panel and all associated electrical controls housed in an IP65 cabinet.

On top of the table are four mounting positions for the selected heat exchangers. There is also space for a variable holding tube.

Under the tabletop are storage positions for unused heat exchangers, plus space for the optional vacuum and extraction pumps used for direct heating. There is also space for the optional integrated homogeniser.

The system is PLC controlled, with a high-resolution TFT 8” colour touchscreen panel. All operation functions are controlled from this panel, including configuration, mode of operation (sterilisation, process or Clean In Place).

Different sets of processing parameters can be edited, stored and quickly recalled using the system's menu capability.

Similarly, the ancillary items such as the homogeniser and sterile filler are also controlled from this panel. The system can be quickly and easily interfaced to other free-standing Armfield process items, such as a mixing vessel, a chiller (FT63 or FT64) or a sterile filling system (FT83).

The base unit provides the services to the heat exchangers. 

Four sets of services are provided:


Main heat


Steam is applied to the service side of the heating section of the product heat exchanger using an electro-pneumatic steam-control valve. The product temperature is measured at the end of the heat exchanger (or holding tube) and this value is used by a PID control algorithm, implemented in the PLC, to control the steam-regulating valve ensuring the user defined set point is maintained. The same steam output and control valve is used to provide the steam injection for the optional Direct Steam Injection module.




A gentle preheat action is achieved by using steam at sub-atmospheric pressure (and hence low temperature). In this way, steam temperatures at or significantly below 100°C can be produced, and low differentials between steam temperature and product temperature are achieved. Stable temperatures of 60°C or less are feasible. Control of the steam pressure/temperature is achieved by a manual steam-control valve. Automatic PID control is an available option.




Cooling water is applied to the cooling section of the product heat exchanger via a rotameter in order to measure flow rate.


Chilling (Optional)


Using an external recirculating chiller such as the Armfield FT63, FT64 or other chilled water supply.


Feed pump system


A progressing cavity feed pump is used as this gives consistent volumetric flow rate for a wide range of liquid viscosities. It consists of a stainless steel rotor within a food-grade rubber stator. All metal parts of the pump, which come into contact with product are made from 316l stainless steel. A mechanical seal isolates the product from the drive system.


This pump provides a very wide range of flow capability, from as low as 12 l/hr to as much as 120 l/hr (used for CIP). The pump is fitted with a feed tank and level sensor, a pressure-relief valve and temperature and pressure sensors.


Available models

This option allows the various operating parameters to be recorded on a standard Windows PC (not provided) via a USB interface. It also displays calculated values such as steam equivalent temperatures and f0 values. Graphs and tables can be displayed and updated in real time. Data can be saved to an Excel file format.

A single bank of four tubes, with temperature sensor. The product flows through the centre while the service fluid (heating or cooling fluid) flows through the outer tube. 
The FT174-25 is normally used for lower flow rates, (typically 10-20 l/h).

Can be used for:
- Preheat
- Main Heat (indirect)
- Cooling 
- Chilling

i.e. more than one FT174-25 can be used at the same time.
Static mixers are available to promote turbulence in the tubes and improve heat transfer. (Order code FT174-21 for mixers for two tubes).

A single bank of eight tubes, with temperature sensor. The product flows through the centre while the service fluid (heating or cooling fluid) flows through the outer tube. 

The FT174-26 can achieve higher flow rates than the FT174-25 (typically up to 60 l/hr).

Can be used for:
- Preheat
- Main heat (indirect)
- Cooling
- Chilling

ie more than one FT174-26 can be used at the same time, and FT174-26s can be mixed and matched with FT174-25s

16-tube heat exchanger configured for two-stage cooling.

Single stage plate heat exchanger comprising 18 plates.

Can be used for :
- Preheat
- Main heat (indirect)
- Cooling 
- Chilling

i.e. more than one FT174-36 can be used at the same time, and FT174-36’s can be mixed and matched with tubular heat exchangers if required.

The standard unit displays an estimated flow rate calculated from the feed pump speed. This is accurate enough for many applications, but where more accuracy is required a flowmeter is available for measuring the product flow rate.

The FT174-42 is a pneumatic pinch valve which provides much better performance than the standard sprung back pressure valve when used with products containing particulates.

Adds the location points and plumbing for a fourth heat exchanger (second-stage cooling).

Sterilisation is achieved by applying steam onto the outside of the cooling tubes instead of cold water. This sterilises the cooling tubes and gives the power to sterilise a downstream homogeniser. The FT174-45 option provides the switching valves necessary to perform this.

This FT174-45 is only needed when using indirect heat exchangers for the main cooling (i.e. not using the vacuum cooling vessel). However, FT174-45 components need not be removed when a vacuum module is fitted.

This option is required when it is necessary to achieve an accurate preheat temperature (eg when it is important to homogenise at a particular temperature) or when using the preheat facility by itself for pasteurising at lower temperatures. It is also beneficial when using direct steam injection.

It replaces the standard manual preheat control valve with an automatically controlled electro-pneumatic valve. A PID loop is used to control the temperature to the operators desired set point by actuation of the valve. The option also includes an electronic pressure sensor to measure the steam pressure. This pressure and its equivalent temperature (determined in the PLC) are displayed on the control panel.

The same steam valve used to provide the main heating on an indirect heat exchanger can be used to provide the steam control for a direct injection heat exchanger. The heat exchangers themselves therefore become interchangeable. 

The option comprises:
> Steam-conditioning unit, built into the service unit frame (including a culinary grade steam filter to clean any impurities from the steam prior to injection)
> Steam-injection port

When using direct steam injection, conventional tubular (or plate) heat exchanger’s are used in position 1 for preheat and 4 for final cooling.

This module is used in conjunction with a DI heat exchanger to evaporate away the injected steam and prevent dilution of the product.

It comprises:
> A module assembly located in position 3, inc:
- Vacuum vessel with sight glass
- Back pressure valve on inlet
- Tubular HE (2 tubes) for cooling prior to the extraction pump
- Pressure (vacuum) sensor and Temperature sensor
- Mounting position for the steam injector, FT174-48

> Vacuum pump assembly mounted below the table with isolator valve and bleed valve
> Extraction pump to pump out the contents of the vessel against the vacuum

This module is an alternative to the vacuum module, which is modified to make sterilisation possible.

The module adds a hygienic divert valve prior to the vacuum chamber, a cooling heat exchanger, a sterile breather and a second valve and steam trap at the filler (FT83). Steam is used to sterilise the system, injected through the direct injection port.

The divert valve allows product to be diverted away from the vessel until it is fully up to temperature keeping the vessel sterile during processing.
Note: Products with certain particulates can be processed on the Direct Steam Injection option. Please consult with Armfield regarding your particular application.

Provides nominal holding times of 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105, and 120s for a flow rate of 20 l/h.

Note: FT174X display shows the actual hold time based on the measured or estimated flow rate used during processing.

Now with scraped surface heat exchanger options for viscous products.
Scraped surface heat exchangers can be fitted at any position (heat, preheat, cool) for use with viscous products. Product flow rates would be typically 10-20 l/hr. 

Twin piston two stage variable flow rate homogeniser with pulsation damping devices, bleed valve to control input pressure, plus temperature, product line pressure and homogenisation pressure sensors all integrated within the FT174X frame, allowing upstream or downstream processing.

Available specifications

Homogenisation Pressure 400 bar max or 600 bar max
Maximum Flow Rate 55 l/hr 20 l/hr


When used with one of the sterile configurations above (FT174-45 or FT174-55) the FT83 can be used to fill pre-sterilised containers in a sterile environment. The FT83-174 version is completely compatible with the FT174X and is controlled from the FT174X’s touchscreen.

A recirculating chiller, used in conjunction with the additional cooling stage option (FT174-43) allows product to be output at reduced temperatures. The FT63 is suitable for lower flow rates, but the FT64 is recommended for higher flows.

Armfield can offer a range of mixing tanks with low-speed agitators, optional heated jackets and optional high shear mixing. Standard sizes are 50l and 100l. Please contact us with your specific requirements.

Armfield also offer a range of feed and holding tanks.

Other holding tubes can be provided to suit your holding time and flowrate requirements.

Static Mixers are available to promote turbulence in the tubes and improve heat transfer. One set provides mixers for two tubes.

Used in place of the feed hopper, the suction feed assembly allows the system to be connected to a feed tank, The assembly includes an in-line level sensor to protect the feed pump from running dry.

This option, used in conjunction with secondary cooling, allows the user to define an outlet product temperature. Flow rate of the secondary coolant is automatically adjusted to attain the defined temperature.

The FT174X has an efficient CIP facility built-in as standard. Should the unit be used for especially fouling products where very high cleaning velocities are required then this option may be specified. It includes a dedicated centrifugal pump which augments the cleaning provided by the feed pump.

This option adds an automatic water feed to the suction feed assembly (FT174-41) so that should a low feed level situation occur, the unit can switch to a pressurised water feed automatically. This means the operation of the HTST system is not interrupted.

When the direct steam injection option has been specified then the position normally taken for the primary cooling heat exchanger is unavailable. If low product outlet temperatures are still required, then a dual cool heat exchanger can be specified for the final position. This is a 16-tube heat exchanger, eight tubes for primary cooling and a further eight tubes for secondary cooling.

Key Features & Benefits

Key Features

  • Totally modular system
  • Direct and/or indirect heating
  • Tubular & plate heat exchangers, scraped surface
  • Full sterile capability options
  • Touchscreen control panel for ease of use
  • Hygienic fittings as standard
  • Integral homogeniser option
  • Standard throughputs from 12-60 l/hr
  • Maximum product temperature setting of 160˚C
  • Controllable preheat option
  • Built-in CIP facility
  • USB data logging option
  • Electronic flow meter option


  • High degree of user configuration
  • Rapid start–up
  • Switch-over between heat exchangers is quick and easy
  • Links directly to sterile filling bench
  • Small footprint can contain tubular, plate heat exchangers, DSI module & homogeniser
  • Low product hold-up
  • Biopharmaceutical and Biotechnology
  • Chemical
  • Cosmetics & Personal Care
  • Education & Academics
  • Food & Beverage
  • Oil & Gas
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Powders & Pigments / Coating
ArmfieldThe Armfield Industrial Division designs and manufactures research & development systems, primarily for the food, beverage, dairy, edible oil and pharmaceutical industries. Used by many of the world's leading corporations, Armfield systems enable researchers and product developers to replicate full-scale industrial manufacturing processes on a miniature-scale in the laboratory.
[Armfield, Miniature, Scale, Research, Development, R&D, Technology, FT174X, Modular, Miniature, Scale, HTST, UHT, Process, System]