Skimming the fat from milk with sound waves

March 6, 2014 by Meghan Lodwick

Sound waves may be key to creating the perfect cheese, as research into a new milk separation process looks to revolutionise Australia's dairy industry.

Swinburne University of Technology together with CSIRO are researching different skimming technologies through a $1.2M project supported by the Australian Research Council's (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme, a Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation grant and university and CSIRO funds.

Swinburne's Associate Professor Richard Manasseh and team are working with electrical and food process engineers from CSIRO, as well as members to examine how ultrasonic waves can be used to skim .

Associate Professor Manasseh says skimming, or separating the from the whey is the key component of milk processing and ultrasound has the ability to separate out fat particles by size, leading to a more precise output.

"We already knew that when you introduce a sound wave through fluid it causes particles to cluster; sound creates expansion and contraction of the fluid causing the particles to collect in vertical bands a half-wavelength apart. But it hadn't been tried on milk.

"Milk fat are tiny, you could fit 50–100 on the width of a human hair, and they are formed like biological cells in that they have a membrane that holds some of the nutritional and textural value of whole milk," Associate Professor Manasseh said.

Small and large fat globules have different properties, imparting smoothness or creaminess, and therefore if they can be separated, it may create better tastes and textures for new products – or re-create traditional products that are currently uneconomical with current technology.

The research team is also examining the optimal frequency for separation – too high a frequency and the ultrasound gets absorbed by the milk and doesn't travel far enough for a result, too low and it might break up the membranes.

Smaller dairies as well as specialist cheese producers may benefit from this process in the short term as ultrasound skimming is very gentle, making it ideal for traditional products such as parmesan.

Explore further: Cows fed flaxseed produce more nutritious dairy products

More information: www.swinburne.edu.au/magazine/20/350/ultrasound-is-skimming-the-fat-from-the-milk/

Related Stories

Making low-fat cheese taste better

October 15, 2013

In an effort to promote better public health, recent European law requires producers to limit fat content, particularly in cheese and cheese-based products.

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

A marine creature's magic trick explained

September 2, 2015

Tiny ocean creatures known as sea sapphires perform a sort of magic trick as they swim: One second they appear in splendid iridescent shades of blue, purple or green, and the next they may turn invisible (at least the blue ...

Antibody-making bacteria promise drug development

August 31, 2015

Monoclonal antibodies, proteins that bind to and destroy foreign invaders in our bodies, routinely are used as therapeutic agents to fight a wide range of maladies including breast cancer, leukemia, asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.