Milk Ultrafiltration

This project is a collaboration with Prof. David Dunstan and his team from The University of Melbourne and Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd. The use of filtration to separate milk components is critical to the manufacture of many dairy products. Advancing the understanding of membrane filtration processes for dairy applications is essential for improved industry competitiveness. A fundamental approach that combines novel experimental techniques and state-of-art computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modelling will be used. This fundamental strategic research aims to optimize dairy membrane operation through reduced fouling and increased membrane flux, thus improving energy and water efficiency.

The application of ultrafiltration (UF) combined with diafiltration (DF) are widely used in dairy industry in order to produce high protein concentration powders. However, the membrane fouling by concentration of protein and complex mineral components are the key issue, which significantly influences the performance of UF/DF membrane systems. In order to control the fouling, a better understanding of the interactions between the membrane filtration process and the biochemical/physico-chemical properties of the milk are essential. Casein micelles comprise 80% of the protein in the milk. This project will investigate experimentally how the properties of casein micelles (in particular their size, hydration and olloidal calcium phosphate content) and micelle-mineral equilibria are affected during UF/DF. This will be extended to understand how micelle properties affect particle-particle interactions and fluid properties and how this relates to concentration polarisation, fouling and transmembrane flux.

UNSW researchers will focus on the experimental investigation of the fundamental physics and biochemistry of milk ultrafiltration. Based on the experimental outcome, the team at the University of Melbourne will develop and a CFD model to optimize the operation of milk ultrafiltration for increased efficiency.

Research Team:    Vick Chen

Collaborators:       David Dunstan (University of Melbourne)
                                Diary Innovation Australia

Funding Body:      ARC Linkage