Unlocking hidden potential

Whey is a valuable product that is in high demand. This is because whey contains proteins that can be concentrated and isolated to create ingredients for a wide variety of value-added products.

Containing 0.8 percent protein, 4.5 percent lactose and 0.2 percent minerals and salts, whey is fractionated into different products by means of membrane filtration.

Whey comes in two forms: sweet whey – the by-product of cheese coagulated using rennet – and acid whey, also known as sour whey, which is left over from cheese coagulated using acid. Sweet and sour whey both contain whey protein.

Unlocking hidden potential

Whey is a valuable product that is in high demand. This is because whey contains proteins that can be concentrated and isolated to create ingredients for a wide variety of value-added products.

Containing 0.8 percent protein, 4.5 percent lactose and 0.2 percent minerals and salts, whey is fractionated into different products by means of membrane filtration.

Whey comes in two forms: sweet whey – the by-product of cheese coagulated using rennet – and acid whey, also known as sour whey, which is left over from cheese coagulated using acid. Sweet and sour whey both contain whey protein.

Benefits

Enhance cheese milk quality

Enhance cheese milk quality

Membrane filtration makes it possible to turn liquid whey proteins into globules and feed them back into cheese milk. This enhances the cheese’s mouthfeel and creaminess. It is especially suitable for small-scale production of fresh, high moisture cheeses.

Optimize the cheesemaking process

Optimize the cheesemaking process

Removing fat and curd fines from whey is known as whey handling and is integral to cheesemaking. Whey handling may also include pre-concentration in preparation for transport. Membrane filtration plays a major role in pre-concentration and fat and curd-fine removal.

Increase yield and decrease waste

Increase yield and decrease waste

Isolating whey proteins by membrane filtration and adding them back to cheese milk helps improve product yield in cheesemaking, creating a higher yield from the same raw ingredient input and less waste.

Reduce whey handling costs

Reduce whey handling costs

Selling or disposing of liquid whey leftover from cheese production costs money. Concentrating whey by membrane filtration prior to transport reduces the volume of product to be moved, cutting costs and lowering CO2 emissions.

Turn a waste stream into profit

Turn a waste stream into profit

Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is a high-value ingredient in baby food, sports nutrition products, animal feed and many other products. You can concentrate it prior to sale using membrane filtration – and earn revenue. Concentrating whey also reduces its lactose content, creating an ingredient that is well suited to production of low-lactose drinks.

Uses

Yellow powder

Concentration of total solids

Increasing dry-matter content

The first step in whey concentration typically involves increasing the dry-matter content from around 6 percent to between 18 and 25 percent using reverse osmosis filtration or a combination of reverse osmosis and nanofiltration). The concentrated whey can either be transported to another site for further processing, for instance evaporation and drying, or dried directly on site.
Woman drinking a sports drink

Whey protein concentrate and isolate (WPC and WPI)

A high-value product

Concentrated whey, or whey protein concentrate (WPC), is a high-value product considered to be the world’s most nutritionally valuable protein source. It is a key ingredient in baby food, sports nutrition products, animal feed and many other products. WPC ranges in protein content (measured as percentage protein in dry matter) from 35 percent to 80 percent. To make a 35 percent protein product, the liquid whey is concentrated about six-fold to an approximate total dry solids content of 9 percent. To achieve WPC powder of more than 80 percent, the liquid whey is first concentrated by ultrafiltration to a solids content of about 25 percent. The concentrate is then diafiltered to remove lactose and ash and raise the protein concentration in the dry matter. Diafiltration involves adding water to the feed as filtration proceeds. This washes out low molecular components – basically lactose and minerals. These then pass through the filtration membranes. Whey protein isolate (WPI) containing more than 92 percent in dry matter is a popular ingredient in protein supplements. It is produced by microfiltration using whey that has been pre-concentrated by ultrafiltration.
Sky blue water

Water recovery

Sustainable savings

Water is a crucial and limited resource in the dairy industry almost everywhere. Whey’s very high water content of 94 percent makes it an interesting target for water recovery. Using reverse osmosis filtration technology, water can be removed from whey and then reused elsewhere, for instance for cleaning. If purified to a high level it can even be reused in the production process. The result is a more sustainable – and cheaper – process that reduces food producers’ consumption of drinking water.

Technologies

Nanofiltration from Tetra Pak

Precise control

Nanofiltration

Nanofiltration plays an integral part in advanced whey processing techniques, permitting the customization of whey fractions based on specific applications and market demands. It enables the production of high-value whey products with controlled compositions, improved functionality and enhanced sensory qualities. Specifically, nanofiltration can be used for protein concentration to create protein-rich fractions and lactose removal, resulting in lactose-reduced or lactose-free whey products. Nanofiltration can also be used to selectively separate minerals in whey based on their molecular sizes. This can be beneficial for controlling the whey’s mineral content and obtaining specific mineral fractions
Microfiltration unit from Tetra Pak

Bacteria and spore removal

Microfiltration

Microfiltration is often employed as part of a multi-step processing system in conjunction with ultrafiltration and nanofiltration to achieve specific outcomes in terms of composition, quality, and functionality of whey products. The primary roles of microfiltration are bacteria and spore removal and fat separation. Microfiltration membranes allow most dissolved substances to pass through while rejecting bacteria and fat globules, which remain in the retentate. Removing bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms from whey helps extend whey shelf life and ensures the production of microbiologically stable whey products. Fat separation is particularly important in the production of low-fat or fat-free whey products.
Reverse Osmosis unit from Tetra Pak

Useful concentration step

Reverse osmosis

Reverse osmosis plays a major role in concentrating liquid whey to reduce its high water content. Reverse osmosis membranes allow the passage of water molecules while blocking the passage of larger molecules and solutes. This enables the removal of water from whey, resulting in a concentrated whey solution. Reverse osmosis is a typical first step in whey concentration to increase the dry-matter content from around 6 percent to between 18 and 25 percent. Water removed from whey can be reused, for instance for cleaning. If purified to a high level it can even be added back to the production process.

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

Whey Powder

Whey processing

Tetra Pak supports customers with expertise and equipment in whey processing, such as protein-extraction fractionation evaporation, drying, and powder handling

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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