New Zealand and Australian renderers recently honored Tissa Fernando, Flow Dry Engineering, for his generous service to the rendering industry for almost 40 years. Bruce Rountree, chairman of the New Zealand Renderers Group (NZRG), made a presentation to Fernando at a recent conference that was greeted with much acclamation (see International Report on page 20).
In 1965, Fernando came to New Zealand from Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, as a student to study engineering at Canterbury University. After graduating with engineering degrees, he returned to his home country. About two years later, Fernando went back to New Zealand and began working with the by-products team at the Meat Industry Research Institute of New Zealand (MIRINZ), a world renowned specialist institute for the study and development of systems for the meat industry.
As a result of the first oil crisis in the 1970s, Fernando was tasked with researching energy use in New Zealand’s very large livestock slaughter industry. At the time, rendering plants were guilty of high energy consumption within this sector as most plants were still using old equipment derived from Europe or the United States. Following this research, Fernando was appointed to head a small team of scientists and engineers to develop a New Zealand-specific rendering system to focus on energy consumption and higher quality outputs from mixed stock raw material. Much international research, some pilot plants, and several years of trials followed, using a wide variety of New Zealand-sourced raw material.
The result was the introduction of the MIRINZ low temperature rendering (MLTR) system. The system started with robust mechanical size reduction, followed by cooking in a reactor, then decanting and separating before drying and milling of the meal. This precipitated a dramatic change in New Zealand rendering plants. Several new plants were constructed while many older plants modified to incorporate key aspects of the process. Energy consumption was slashed and labor numbers reduced, though a higher level of operator was required to understand and control the more technical process.
Both tallow and meal qualities were significantly improved as the system was designed to process animals from a 100 percent pasture-based livestock industry. Tallow color was now easily bleached out and the tallow was worth considerably more than from existing plants. Nutritionists discovered too that the amino acid profile of meals had vastly improved, again adding more value to the product. Blood processing was now possible using some of the new equipment, which produced an excellent product.
The basic MLTR technology has continually evolved since, with electronics, variable speed drives, and programmable logic controller automation bringing further enhancements. Fernando was also involved in refining other aspects of rendering, including gut cutting and washing, wool hydrolysis, paunch content utilization, fluidized bed blood dryer, methyl ester work for the New Zealand Liquid Fuels Trust Board, pyrolysis of tallow, solvent fractionation, developments of dissolved air flotation systems, and biofilters and afterburners for environmental control.
At the end of a momentous decade working at MIRINZ, Fernando ventured into the commercial world and headed a major New Zealand company building and installing MLTR plants. From there, he formed his own company, Flo Dry Technology, which later became Flo Dry Engineering, and was responsible for supplying many plants in New Zealand, Australia, and India. This work continued for many years, and the development of his direct-fired dryers in municipal sludge drying saw applications installed in several countries.
Fernando sold Flo Dry Engineering to Danish-based Haarslev Industries about two years ago and continued to work with them to ensure a smooth transition for customers and staff. Fernando has now retired from a hectic, but rewarding, schedule of international travel and looks forward to more time at home with wife Nelle. He also looks forward to continuing the many wonderful relationships he has made with renderers all over the world.
June 2014 RENDER | back