Successful launch of milk concentration process at Dairy Campus

Wafilin Systems founder and technical director Harry van Dalfsen has been dreaming of it for years: a system that concentrates raw milk at the farm. This unique concept could help to create a more sustainable dairy processing chain. Thanks to years of testing and the promise of an H2020 VIDA subsidy, the time has finally come to launch a demo of the installation at the Dairy Campus in Leeuwarden this April.

Unique milk concentration concept

Raw cow milk contains approximately 87% water, with the remainder consisting of fats, proteins, lactose and minerals. In the production of cheese, yoghurt or milk powder, this high water content serves no purpose. Dairy processors cannot make full use of the water contained in the raw product. Therefore, they make use of filtering options. Currently, this concentration process takes place after the milk’s arrival at the factory. The water is filtered out of the milk, producing a thicker concentrate. In-factory concentration of milk is nothing new. What makes this project so unique is the fact that Wafilin Systems is moving the concentration process to an earlier point in the chain. It now takes place right at the farm, fresh from the cow and before the milk has been stored or chilled. This is a much more complex challenge, as bacteria spread rapidly in milk that is still warm. The process needs to be fast and efficient.

From dream to demonstration

Harry van Dalfsen came up with the idea to concentrate milk at the farm back in the 1990s. The past few years were spent performing various tests to improve the technology, at Wafilin Systems’ own initiative. While many dairy farmers and processors are interested, they want to see more before they will consider investing.

Last year we received an H2020 VIDA subsidy for the development of a system to demonstrate the concept of milk concentration at the farm. This will allow us to demonstrate that the system also functions well at larger scale and that the milk’s quality is maintained. We worked with IDEE-techniek, Westra RVS and Hellebrekers to design and produce a containerized membrane filtration system. The container will be installed at the Dairy Campus in Leeuwarden. This is a farm with 500 cows and we will connect the system to the rotary milking parlour there by the end of April.

Valuable to farmers, dairy processors and the environment

The membrane system can achieve a 50% reduction in milk volume. As the farmers have less milk that needs to be stored or chilled, their energy consumption reduces. There are advantages to the processors as well: there is also less milk to transport and the processing (for instance into milk powder) also requires less energy. “That means our innovative solution is helping to create a more efficient, more sustainable dairy supply chain. Something that is very important both to me personally and to the other Masters in Membrains,” says Harry van Dalfsen, who is closely involved in the project.

Are you interested in exploring possible applications of this concept within your company? Would you like to know more about this project or the demonstration? Please contact our R&D manager Jos van Dalfsen:

This project was awarded by the VIDA project and has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement nº 777795.

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