Food | Monitoring the spray drying process in the dairy industry

Producers of milk powder rely on concentration and viscosity monitoring to optimize the evaporation and spray drying process in terms of time, energy consumption and product quality. The viscosity and concentration values measured at the inlet and outlet of the evaporation step provide best data for an automated process control. Anton Paar’s inline refractometer L-Rix 5100 has proven to be well suited for the continuous monitoring of total dissolved solids concentration for food and beverage production processes. The inline viscosity measurement with the L-Vis 510 completes the reliable process control.

Milk powder production

Powdered milk or dried milk is a manufactured dairy product made by evaporating milk to dryness. One purpose of drying milk is to preserve it. Milk powder has a far longer shelf life than liquid milk and does not need to be refrigerated, due to its low moisture content (2.5 - 5%). Another purpose is to reduce its bulk for economy of transportation.

Milk powder is usually made by spray or drum drying. Spray drying is carried out in two phases. In the first phase the pre-treated milk is evaporated to a total dry solids content (%TDS) of 45 – 55%. In the second phase the concentrate is pumped to a drying tower for final drying.

For the operation of the evaporation and spray drying process both, the optimum viscosity and the correct %TDS of the milk, are crucial. The inline monitoring of the concentration and viscosity of the milk at the inlet and the condensed milk at the outlet of the evaporation column is critical for the optimization of the processes and the quality of the final product.

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