With this technology, whey, one of the by-products of the dairy industry, will be utilized more efficiently and economically.
The liquid remaining after the milk is coagulated and separated to produce cheese is called whey. Whey cannot be directly released into nature as waste due to the negative effects of the salt it contains and the substances that may occur during its decomposition.
Studies are ongoing to evaluate this mixture, which is extremely rich in protein. Whey can be added to the composition of various beverages, dried and powdered, and added to some foods, increasing their nutritional value and improving their structural properties.
98% of the protein in whey recovered
But scientists have come up with a new way to exploit this byproduct much more effectively. Accordingly, 99% of the salt can be recovered by subjecting the whey to the electrochemical redox salt purification process. During this process, 98% of the valuable proteins in the product can be refined.
According to the study, 83% of the waste from the milk and dairy products industry is generated during cheese production. In addition to environmental concerns, the increasing need for sustainable food systems accelerates the efforts to make the best use of this waste.
The operating cost of the new system is 62% lower
The desalination system used in the research, published in the Chemical Engineering Journal, operates with 73% less energy and 62% less operating costs than commonly used systems.
Professor of the University of Illinois, who led the research. Xiao Su says that the sustainable recovery of high-density minerals in whey can both eliminate the environmental impact of cheese production and provide access to the valuable proteins in this by-product.
Scientists say that the redox-based electrodialysis system used in the study can separate proteins without the risk of clumping or spoilage, and can revolutionize the food industry by simultaneously responding to environmental and food safety concerns.