Concentrating milk on the farm scaled up

Leeuwarden – On the morning of Wednesday, 12 May, Alderman Friso Douwstra inaugurated a milk concentration plant at the Dairy Campus Innovation Centre in Leeuwarden (the Netherlands). This plant owes its existence to a successful pilot project completed four years ago by Wafilin Systems. The technology has since been scaled up and connected to the rotary milking parlour. With today’s commissioning, this Leeuwarder firm can now demonstrate the large-scale, international viability of this technology. A farm can deploy this innovation while maintaining the desired milk quality.

Onsite milk concentration

Concentrating raw milk on the farm offers benefits for both the farmer and the dairy factory. Milk consists of 87% water. This is the right composition for consumption milk, but not necessary to make other dairy products, such as cheese, yoghurt or milk powder. The milk concentration process is currently handled in the factory. This however means that the milk often travels long distances before reaching the factory, especially at an international level. A unique membrane system designed by Wafilin Systems makes it possible to concentrate the milk directly from the cows on the farm.

How the demo system works

The demonstration system is installed in a container and can concentrate over 3,000 litres of raw milk an hour. The milk goes directly from the rotary milking parlour to the system, where membranes separate pure water from the milk. The total volume of the milk is reduced by 50%, and the milk is then stored in cooling tanks. The distinguishing feature of this process is that the raw milk requires no pre-treatment, such as skimming or pasteurisation. It can operate in line with the rotary milking parlour, which milks over 450 cows at a time.

Added value for farmers, dairy producers and the environment

Onsite milk concentration offers several benefits. Reducing the milk volume by 50% at the farm means less storage and cooling, resulting in energy savings. What’s more, thanks to its quality, the filtered water can be reused to clean the system.

The stakeholder consortium plans to further demonstrate the possibilities for milk processing and water reuse to various parties in the chain. Interest from the dairy industry is high, and a number of parties have inquired about purchasing the concentrated milk for product development. They want to demonstrate that onsite milk concentration makes the dairy chain more sustainable in the Netherlands and beyond.

Partnership for water and dairy technologies

Wafilin Systems developed this technology in close collaboration with Westra RVS, Hellebrekers and IdeeTechniek, with support from local partners. This project was awarded by VIDA with financial support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, No 777795.

About Wafilin Systems

Wafilin Systems develops one-of-a-kind membrane filtration systems for the food and dairy industry. These solutions often combine water reuse and energy savings with the recovery valuable raw materials. This reduces the costs of complex processes while boosting profitability and growth. As Membrane Masters, they believe their smart, groundbreaking membrane filtration systems have a key role to play in producing high-quality foods and dairy products. In this way, they can contribute towards a better, more sustainable world. 

About the Dairy Campus

The Dairy Campus in Leeuwarden is the pre-eminent research and training centre for sustainable dairy farming. It’s all about innovation, research and knowledge development. Here, cows produce both milk and data.

Share this article