Baked potato snacks

Production process

“Baked not fried” has become an established healthy, low fat choice for consumers in many markets. Potato snacks and crackers are baked with infrared radiation on Direct Gas Fired ovens or hybrid DGF/Indirect Radiant ovens.

DGF-IR oven

Baker Pacific Direct Gas Fired / Indirect Radiant oven

The production process for potato snacks follows that for crackers and wheat based snacks quite closely. With some modification, cracker lines can produce baked potato snacks in addition to potato crackers.

Potato crackers from Khong Guan, Indonesia                           Potato snacks from Walkers, UK

The ingredients for baked potato snacks may be mixed on continuous mixers or on horizontal high speed mixers with suitable modifications or on plough share type mixers with bottom discharge. All the dry ingredients are blended, fat is added and finally water is added. Horizontal high speed mixers require a steam jacket and suitable modifications to the bearings and seals. The dough is heated during mixing to gelatinise the starches.

HS mixer










APV Baker High Speed Mixer

The dough is sheeted and gauged to produce a dough sheet of approximately 0.75mm thickness. Potato doughs are tough and require heavy duty forming equipment. The robustness and accuracy of the gauging equipment is critical as variations in thickness of the snacks will cause variations in colour after baking. Achieving the minimum variation in thickness requires large diameter gauge rolls, 400mm diameter and these may be of solid construction to minimise deflection.

gauge rolls









Heavy duty gauge rolls from Baker Perkins


Ripple snacks are formed on a final gauge roll unit, which has grooved rolls, which intermesh to form the ripple in the dough sheet. By using one plain and one grooved roll, other forms such as hollow flutes can be made. These rolls only form the dough sheet and do not alter the thickness. When making plain products the ripple roll gap is opened to allow the product to pass through without ripples.

Pic 5


After gauging, the snacks are cut by a rotary cutter. The scrap dough is lifted and may be milled before returning to the mixer. Cracker doughs which have a strong, extensible dough sheet may be returned to the sheeter.

Triangle snacks


Potato snacks are baked on pre-heated Z47 type wire mesh or heavy mesh oven bands, such as Ashworth CB5. The ovens require high radiant heat and may be either a Direct Gas Fired (DGF) oven or hybrid DGF / Indirect Radiant oven. Convection ovens are unsuitable as the convective air will disturb the very light snacks on the band and will cause snacks to be blown off the band. Baking times are of the order of 4 minutes and the output of a 1.0m x 40m oven will typically be around 500kgs / hour.

About - ovens

Baker Pacific Radiant oven baking by infrared radiation

The snacks are conveyed directly to the oil spray and flavour applicator. The flavours may be added to the oil and the slurry pumped through the oil spray. This method has the disadvantage of possible blockages and increased cleaning time, particularly where more than one flavour is applied on the same line. The alternative is to use a flavour applicator after the oil spray machine. The flavour is metered on to the snacks while they are agitated in a rotating drum. After flavouring the snacks are cooled and conveyed to packaging.




Storeveyor for potato chips from Gough Engineering

Packaging is usually a vertical Form fill seal pack, but may also be a block bottomed bag or a bag in a box.

Crinklys - Walkers packs

Crinklys potato snacks from Jacobs and Walkers Baked from UK


Logo 2015

Oven efficiency

OVEN EFFICIENCY                                                                       

Energy use

We are concerned not only to bake high quality biscuits, but also to achieve the lowest cost per kg of baked product. We need therefore to consider the amount of energy required by the oven. As energy costs increase in almost every country, the efficiency of the oven is of growing importance. In certain countries such as India, fuel is very expensive and represents an important element of the total production cost.

The energy used by the oven is predominantly from gas or oil fuel. Electricity is rarely used for baking now, due to its high cost. In a gas/oil fired oven the fuel represents around 95-96% of the total energy usage and electricity (for powering the drive, fans and other electrical systems) about 4-5%.

The energy input to the oven is used primarily to bake the biscuit, to achieve the structure, reduce the moisture content by evaporation and to colour the biscuit. Each type of biscuit requires a certain amount of energy to achieve a good quality result. In the example we will use, a typical rotary moulded product requires 0.2120 KWh (182 kcal) of energy per kg of baked product.

In addition to the energy required to bake a good product, energy is lost in several ways:

  • By extraction of moist air from each oven zone
  • By heat loss through the insulation and outer covers of the oven
  • By the return circuit of the oven band
  • By heat loss from the heater module or heat exchanger

In order to minimise the heat loss, (wasted energy), we need to pay attention to the extraction system to achieve the final moisture content required, without excessive waste of heat from the burners, insulate the baking chamber adequately and also insulate the return band, particularly where the band temperature is high, for example when baking crackers.

In the following energy calculations, we will just consider the energy from the gas or oil fuel.



The following calculations of the energy balance of an oven are taken from an actual installation. Details of the product and the oven are given below, so that different data for other ovens can be substituted to make calculations of energy use accordingly.


Rotary moulded biscuit

Dimensions:                58 x 37mm

Weight:                       5.1 gms

Baking time:                3.8 mins



Baking chamber:         1.25 x 100m

Zones:                          8 (7 burners)

Oven band:                  8.25 kgs/m2

Extraction fans:           34 m3/min (maximum)

Oven output:               3,200 kgs/hr


Data from independent test results

Total energy used by the oven:          0.4043 KWh/kg of baked biscuits

Of this, the energy required to bake the product to the required quality:  

                                                                  0.2120 KWh/kg of baked biscuits

Waste energy:                                      0.1923 KWh/kg of baked biscuits


The total energy requirement to bake the product is 0.2120 KWh/kg of baked biscuit

This gives a total energy usage (gas) to bake the biscuit of:

3200 x 0.2120 = 678.4 KWh per hour

This is the energy utilised to bake the biscuit, form the structure, remove the moisture and colour the biscuit.

Latent heat of evaporation

An important element in energy use is providing the latent heat of evaporation. In order to evaporate the moisture in the dough (14 % by dough weight) to a final moisture content of 3.0% latent heat is required. The latent heat energy required to evaporate the water from the product is 539 cal/gm of water.

Moisture to be removed to reach final moisture content of 3.0%: 0.135 kg per kg of biscuits

Moisture to be removed: 0.135 x 3200kgs = 432 kgs per hour

Latent heat required to evaporate 432 kgs of water:

432,000 gm x 539 cal = 232848 kcal = 270.75 KWh per hour

Heat loss from extraction system from baking chambers            

Volume of air extracted from each zone

34m3/min x 60mins x 8 zones = 16320 m3/hour (maximum)

Estimated average extraction damper setting: 40%

Actual volume of air extracted from baking chamber = 6528m3/hour

The air extracted has been heated from ambient temperature over the oven (55oC) to an average baking temperature (200oC). This requires an energy input as follows:

Weight of the air extracted = 6528 x 0.746 kg = 4870 kgs

The energy required to raise the temperature of this air in the oven from 55oC to 200oC (145oC) is:

145 x 1.009 KJ/kg x 4870 kg = 712505 KJ = 198 KWh perhour

Energy required to raise the temperature of the water vapour from 100oC to 200oC

1.996 x 432 x 100 = 86227 kJ = 23.97 KWh perhour

Heat loss from extraction system per hour = 222 KWH

Specific heat of water vapour: 1.996 kJ/kgK

Density of water vapour at 100oC = 0.958

1 KJ = 0.000278 KWH

Heat loss from return band

Oven band drum centres:  111m

Band width 1.25m

Band weight: 8.20kgs/m2

Specific heat of carbon steel: 0.12kcal/kgo

Band temperature at delivery end: 140oC

Return band temperature at feed end: 105oC

(estimated temperatures)

Weight of band (on return circuit): 111 x 1.25 x 8.20 = 1137.75

Temperature loss: 140 – 105 = 35oC

Heat loss: 0.12 x 1137.75 x 35 = 4778.55 kcal (5.56 KWh) per revolution of the band

Bake time: 3.8 mins

Heat loss per hour: 5.56 KWh x 60/3.8 = 87.8 KWh

Heat loss from the insulation and outer covers of the oven:                              

 Oven baking chamber:                                  1.25m x 100m

Width over covers:                                          2.3m

Height of covers                                               1.23m

Average bake temperature:                        200oC

Average temp in heater modules:             350oC

Ave. outer side cover temperature:          55oC

Ave. outer top cover temperature:           55oC

Rockwool insulation thickness (s):            200mm sides and 250mm top

Rockwool thermal conductivity (k):          0.066 W/m.oC  


Heat loss from sides and top of the oven through the insulation

Heat loss = k A dT / s

Total area of oven sides: 100m x 2m x 2 = 400m2

This includes 7 heater modules and baking chamber sides

Area of heater modules on burner side: 13m2 x 7 = 91m2

Area of heater modules on non burner side: 2m2 x 7 = 14m2

Total area of heater modules = 105m2

Total area of oven sides (less heater modules) = 295m2

Heat loss from sides of baking chamber sections:

0.066 x 295m2 x (200 – 55oC) / 0.2 = 14116   W


Heat loss from heater modules:

0.066 x 105m2 x (350 – 55oC)/ 0.2 = 10222 W


Heat loss from top of oven:

0.066 x 100m x 2.3m x (200 – 55oC) / 0.25 = 8804 W


Total heat loss through the insulation of oven sides and top:   33.1 KW

Heat loss from radiation from oven delivery end:

Area of oven delivery end covers       6m2

Area of oven end hood:                      14m2

Total area                                           34m2

 Heat loss = ∑ σ   (Th4  – Tc4) A

∑ = emissivity

σ = 5.6703 10-8 (W m2 k 4) (Stefan Boltzmann constant)

T = absolute temp. (Kelvin)

A = Area m2

0.5 x 5.6703 x 10-8  x (298 x 108  ) x 34m2 = 28725 W

 Heat loss from radiation at the delivery end: 28.7 KW

Heat loss from burner flues

Total energy used: 0.4043 kWh x 3200kgs = 1294 KWh/hour

7 burners: average energy used per hour per burner = 1294/7 = 185 kWh

Gas consumption: 185/9.8 kWh/m3 = 18.9 m3 / hour per burner (average)

Gas/air volume required per burner: 18.9m3 gas + 301m3 air = 319.9m3

 Estimated average temperature of flue gases: 200oC

Gas / air weight at 200oC per burner = 319.9 x 0.746 kg/m3 = 239 kgs/hour/burner

Estimated energy in flue gases: 239kgs x 200 x 1.026 KJ = 49043 KJ

= 13.6 kWh /hour/burner

Estimated water vapour content of flue gases:  119.5 kgs /burner/hour

Energy required to raise the temperature of the water vapour from 100oC to 200oC

1.996 x 119.5 x 100 = 23852 KJ = 6.6 kWh /hour/burner


 Total heat energy in flue gases: 7 x (13.6 + 6.6) kWh = 141.4 kWh per hour

Of this 50% can be used in the Heat Recovery System

Specific heat of water vapour: 1.996 kJ/kgK

Specific heat of air: 1.026 kJ/kgK

Density of water vapour at 100oC = 0.958

Density of air at 2000C = 0.746 kg/m3

1 KJ = 0.000278 KWH

Combustion process: CH4 + 3O2 = Heat + 2H20 + CO2 + O2 (see Appendix 3)

Note 1: For complete combustion 10% excess air is required (this amount can vary considerably depending on the burner and heat exchanger design)

Note 2: air contains 20.9% oxygen

From calculations above, the energy consumption of the oven per hour:

For product:                                        678.4 kWh       50.6 %

Heat loss from extraction                   222.0               16.6 %

Heat loss from burner flues2              141.4                 10.5 %

Heat loss from return band:               87.8                   6.5 %

Est. heat loss of air from oven end:    75.0                   5.6 %

Est. loss from thro’ metal, fans etc.   75.0                   5.6 %

Heat loss through insulation:              33.1                   2.5 %

Heat loss from radiation:                    28.7                   2.1  %

Total                                                   1341.4 kWh    100.0%

Note 1: estimated accuracy in the assumptions and base data is +/- 5%

 Note 2: the heat loss can be considerably larger than given depending on the design of the heat exchanger and flue. Please see Appendix 3, “Combustion Analysis”.



  • The overall oven efficiency is 50%
  • Of the heat loss through the burner flues, up to 50% can be recovered and used for baking in a Heat Recovery System
  • In this Baker Pacific oven installation (picture below), the Heat Recovery System reduced the energy requirement by 15% (as calculated by an independent test) 


            Indirect Radiant Oven with Heat Recovery System

Comparison of Oven Efficiencies

 Comparison of oven efficiency for different oven types

Product Oven type Oven size KWH/kg of biscuits
Snack cracker DGF/conv 1.2m x 90m 0.477
Rotary moulded DGF/conv 1.5m x 100m 0.441
Rotary moulded DGF/conv 1.2m x 60m 0.430
Rotary moulded DGF/cyclo 1.2m x 60m 0.492
Rotary moulded IR (cyclo) + HRS 1.2m x 100m 0.404
Rotary moulded IR (cyclo) 1.2m x 100m 0.475




Armstrong Group, “Specific Heat – Specific Gravity”,

J.S. Alakali and others: “Specific Heat Capacity of Palm Oil”; Dept. of Biosource Engineering, McGill Univ. Canada, Dept of Food Science, Unive of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria

Y.S. Kim and others: “ Physical, Chemical and Thermal Characterisation of Wheat Flour Products”; Dept. of Bio. and Agriculture Eng. Kansas State Univ., USA

Sugar Engineers, “Specific Heat Capacity”,

Testo Inc:  “Combustion Analysis”:

“kW and kWh explained”         

“Thermal Conductivity”            

“Thermal properties for water”

“Thermal properties for air”    

“Food and Foodstuff”