Bernadette Byrne, Bord Bia Paris
Attempts have been made in the past to cut meat using high-pressure water jets, but success has been limited by speed, depth of cut and inability to cut bone. The addition of abrasive particles to ultrahigh pressure water jets has enabled abrasive water jet (AWJ) cutting to be applied to a wide range of materials. A study was undertaken by the University of New South Wales into the use of AWJ for cutting meat, meat incorporating bone and bone alone.
According to Food Sceince Australia, the series of trials used fine salt as the abrasive in a system that allowed pressures of up to 415 MPa to be generated at a cutting head with an orifice of 0.254 mm diameter. The use of the abrasive significantly improved the cutting action of the water jet resulting in a much smoother cut surface.
The quality of the cut improved as water pressure and salt flow rate increased, and decreased as traverse speed increased. A very good quality cut was achieved when slicing 150 mm thick meat using a traverse speed of 66.67 mm/s and a pressure of 320 MPa.
Beef rib bones 44 mm thick could be cut at a speed of 20 mm/s and a pressure of 400 MPa. The cut resulted in a kerf width of less than 1 mm and no bone dust or debris on the surface. The results indicated ice-waterjet cutting could be developed for cutting meat.