Maximize value and quality in milk-based products

Membrane filtration allows milk to be fractionated into its constituent components, which can then can be used to produce a wide spectrum of products. Membrane filtration is also effective at removing bacteria and spores, and is frequently used to standardize protein and casein content.

Additionally, milk producers deploy membrane filtration to concentrate their product into a smaller volume, thereby saving costs during transportation.

Benefits

Consistent milk standardization

Standardizing milk with membrane filtration involves adjusting milk fat levels to achieve a target fat content, allowing producers to consistently hit their product specifications.

Produce valuable by-products

Isolating fats, protein, amino acids, minerals, lactose and other ingredients from milk using membrane filtration enables dairies to recombine these components in different product mixes.

Achieve extended shelf life

Removing bacteria and spores from milk extends product shelf life, allowing producers to differentiate their portfolio and meet market and consumer demands.

Uses

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Bacteria and spore removal

Effective elimination

Removing bacteria or spores is a common processing step in cheese milk production and in milk powder production. It is also a way to extend product shelf life. The narrow pores of filtration membranes efficiently remove bacteria and spores while allowing all other non-fat milk components to pass.
Nutritional drinks

Protein and casein standardization

Effective processing

Milk-based protein products are a fast-growing segment in dairy production. They include milk protein concentrate (MPC), milk protein isolate (MPI), micellar casein concentrate (MCC) and micellar casein isolate (MCI). Membrane technology is integral to the processing of these products, which are used in infant formula, various foods, and sport nutrition products. Processing raw or pasteurized whole or skim milk through filtration membranes separates the milk proteins into two distinct flows, namely a casein stream and a serum protein stream. The membrane pores retain large casein micelles while allowing smaller serum proteins to pass through as permeate. Typically, casein concentrate is produced using microfiltration. Often, this process is complemented by a washing step (diafiltration) to refine product streams further and improve protein serum yield. Milk streams can also be used to produce a range of products including minerals such as lactoferrin and calcium phosphate, as well as lactose, permeate powder and hydrolysates. Mineral-based ingredients serve as components in nutritional supplements, lactose ingredients occur in snack, confectionary and nutritional products, and hydrolysates are included in infant formula and dietary products.
Bubbly milk with a filtration membrane

Whey and key component separation

WPI, lactose and more

Membrane filtration is effective at concentrating dairy products such as cheese and cultured products. It is also useful for isolating target components for high-value whey-based ingredients. Permeate streams containing native whey proteins can be be further processed into higher value protein products such as whey protein isolate (WPI) or various grades of whey protein concentrate (WPC). Filtration permeate from milk ultrafiltration and microfiltration consists primarily of lactose, a favoured ingredient in milk powder standardization. Whey-based ingredients are a fast-growing dairy segment. Products include lactoferrin, calcium phosphate, lactose, permeate powder and hydrolysates. Mineral-based ingredients serve as components in nutritional supplements, lactose-based ingredients occur in snack, confectionary and nutritional products, and hydrolysates form part of infant formula and dietary products.

Technologies

Reverse Osmosis unit from Tetra Pak

Initial concentration

Reverse osmosis

Reverse osmosis filtration is used for initial concentration before other processes or prior to transportation, thereby reducing volume transport costs. Using the finest possible membranes, reverse osmosis filtration essentially allows water only to pass. All other liquid or suspended components, including bacteria, fats, proteins, sugars and minerals, are filtered out as retentate. High pressure is applied to the liquid during the reverse osmosis filtration process.
Nanofiltration unit from Tetra Pak

Ion and mineral removal

Nanofiltration

The diluted streams from microfiltration and ultrafiltration processes are often concentrated using nanofiltration or reverse osmosis – or a combination of the two. The nanofiltration process removes or recovers water and also separates monovalent ions, thus demineralizing the product. Nanofiltration plays a role in the production of products such as milk protein concentrate (MPC), milk protein isolate (MPI) and infant formula. The technology uses slightly more open membrane pores than reverse osmosis. These allow small ions such as dissolved minerals to pass but exclude larger ions and most organic components such as bacteria, spores, fats, proteins, gums and sugars.
Ultrafiltration unit from Tetra Pak

Fat and protein separation

Ultrafiltration

Ultrafiltration is used for concentrating large molecules such as fat and protein in raw or pasteurized whole or skim milk and for reducing lactose and mineral content. Typical products include milk protein concentrate (MPC) and milk protein isolate (MPI). These are produced using polymeric spiral membranes. Diafiltration is often used here to increase the protein-to-dry-matter ratio to achieve high-grade varieties such as MPC 85. Ultrafiltration is also used to concentrate whole or standardized milk for the production of fully or partially concentrated cheeses. Ultrafiltration membrane pores are larger than in nanofiltration and the pressure applied is relatively low. Salts, sugars, organic acids and smaller peptides pass through as permeate. Proteins, fats and polysaccharides remain as retentate.
Microfiltration unit from Tetra Pak

Skim milk processing

Microfiltration

Microfiltration primarily serves two purposes: removing bacteria and spores from skim milk, and separating skim milk proteins into a casein stream and a serum protein stream. Microfiltration membranes have the largest pore size of the four main dairy filtration technologies. They allow most substances to pass except suspended solids, bacteria and fat globules. In casein separation, the membranes retain large casein micelles, letting smaller serum proteins pass. Casein concentrate is produced either using polymeric spiral membranes or with ceramic membranes, depending on the application.

Relevant equipment

Membrane types

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Membrane types and applications​

The heart in any membrane filtration process is the membrane itself, and choosing the best membrane for a given process is often a complex task.

Man using membrane installation tool

Membrane tools

We offer a number of handy and easy-to-use systems and tools for installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of your filtration system.

Multi pilot plant spiral wound 60 bar

Rental pilot plants

We offer different types of easy-to-use pilot plants for rental. All the various dairy filtration pro­cesses can be tested by means of our different types.

Insights and cases

Explore more solutions

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Dairy products

From white milk and flavoured milk to yoghurt and cream, our end-to-end processing and packaging solutions will help you succeed in your dairy markets.

Dairy lines

Dairy lines

We thoroughly understand the complexities of dealing with sensitive dairy products.

processing equipment

Processing equipment

We provide complete solutions and equipment for dairy, cheese, ice cream, JNSD and other beverages, powder, plant-based, food and New Food.

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