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: Families on food assistance buying fewer full-fat dairy products

More information: www.swinburne.edu.au/magazine/ … e-fat-from-the-milk/

Related Stories

Researchers see added nutritional benefits in organic milk

December 9, 2013

A team led by a Washington State University researcher has found that organic milk contains significantly higher concentrations of heart-healthy fatty acids compared to milk from cows on conventionally managed dairy farms. ...

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

Close up view of growing polymer chain show jump steps

October 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at Cornell University has devised a means for watching as a polymer chain grows after application of a catalyst. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team explains how they ...

The birth of a new protein

October 20, 2017

A yeast protein that evolved from scratch can fold into a three-dimensional shape—contrary to the general understanding of young proteins—according to new research led by the University of Arizona.

Discovery lights path for Alzheimer's research

October 19, 2017

A probe invented at Rice University that lights up when it binds to a misfolded amyloid beta peptide—the kind suspected of causing Alzheimer's disease—has identified a specific binding site on the protein that could facilitate ...

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.