Technology extends shelf life of dairy exports

July 26, 2018, Monash University
Technology extends shelf life of dairy exports
A pilot scale spray dryer in the Monash University food grade lab. Credit: Monash University

A suite of drying technology platforms developed by researchers at Monash University could help extend the shelf life of Australia's powdered dairy exports – including infant formula – while meeting stringent safety and quality benchmarks.

Professor Cordelia Selomulya and her team from Monash University's Department of Chemical Engineering, along with international collaborators, have developed world-first 'Smart Drying' technology to help optimise the current industry-standard spray drying conditions and their effect on the final powdered dairy products.

Spray drying is a method of producing a dry powder from a liquid or slurry through rapid drying with hot gas.

Prolonged storage and continued exposure to temperature and moisture during transportation can lead to the browning / caking and spoilage of dairy powders. Above all, this can impact the solubility of dairy powders which, in the case of , can cause choking.

Professor Selomulya says the use of X-ray diffraction and infra-red technology as part of the study will be able to monitor fundamental changes in powder properties during storage and can assist in understanding the ideal conditions that produce cost-effective, export quality dairy powder.

"Milk powder production is the most energy-intensive dairy manufacturing process, with Australian producers under increasing pressure to improve efficiencies and to reduce the cost of bulk powder production," Professor Selomulya said.

"As most infant formulas are exported overseas, it is important that the quality is maintained during the transport and storage period. This could take several weeks or months before the customer uses the product.

"A more targeted approach to spray drying can help manufacturers in producing high quality powders – as well as tremendous gains in energy saving while reducing environmental costs, potentially through a combination of lower temperature spray drying and more efficient evaporation processes."

Roughly 40 percent of fresh milk in Australia is spray dried to create products such as milk powders, whey powders and milk protein concentrates which collectively make up half of Australia's $2 billion dairy export industry.

With a growing demand for dairy products in Southeast Asia, Monash University research will help to define the right process conditions to produce these powders and also help extend their shelf life.

"The Australian dairy industry has the reputation of producing high quality products and Australia has one of the highest food safety standards in the world. The key is now to be able to increase efficiency in manufacturing by decreasing the chances of producing powders with poor quality ," Professor Selomulya said.

Explore further: Single-droplet dryer helps experts predict dairy ingredient properties

Related Stories

A new formula for spray-drying milk

October 22, 2013

Spray-drying methods for milk based products such as baby formula or other powdered milks could be improved according to chemical engineers at the University of Sydney who have analysed current processes.

Processing milk—how concentrates help to save energy

October 28, 2014

Powdered milk is a vital ingredient in infant formula and also used in a wide a range of baked goods and confectionary products. It is manufactured using an energy-intensive process chain that involves concentrating and drying ...

Size matters when innovating dairy products

August 28, 2017

Imagine low-fat cream that's easier to whip, cold butter that's more spreadable, and dairy cream powders that can be tailored for a range of products from milk to cheese to yoghurts.

Recommended for you

Sculpting stable structures in pure liquids

February 21, 2019

Oscillating flow and light pulses can be used to create reconfigurable architecture in liquid crystals. Materials scientists can carefully engineer concerted microfluidic flows and localized optothermal fields to achieve ...

LMC S154 is a symbiotic recurrent nova, study suggests

February 21, 2019

Astronomers have conducted observations of a symbiotic star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), known as LMC S154, which provide new insights about the nature of this object. Results of these observations, presented in a ...


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.