Whey from traditional cheese production contains about 0.8% protein corresponding to 13% of the dry matter. These proteins are known as serum proteins or whey proteins. As the nutritive value is considered very high and as human milk contains more whey proteins than cow's milk, numerous attempts have been made to separate these proteins from the whey, especially for use in baby food powders.

How to produce whey protein concentrate
The most accepted and widely used process is ultrafiltration. The solids content and the composition of the whey protein concentrate, also known as retentate, from the ultrafiltration can be varied to meet special requirements for the final product. Commercially, whey proteins are available with three different protein contents: 35% WPC, 60% WPC, and 80% WPC or higher.

What do you get from 100 kg of whey?
If 100 kg of normal sweet whey with 6 % solids is used, approx. 20 kg of 35 % WPC is discharged from the ultrafiltration module with a solids content of about 10 %, which is increased by evaporation to 45 % before spray drying. Approx. 8 kg of 60 % WPC is discharged with a solids content of about 15 %, evaporated to 42 % before spray drying. High protein concentration results in high viscosity and it is necessary to add water (diafiltration) during the final filtration if 80 % WPC is produced. 3 kg of 80 % WPC is discharged with a solids content of about 28-30 %. Due to the high protein content it is dried directly.

Spray drying of whey protein concentrate
Spray drying of whey protein concentrates is easy, but to maintain a good solubility of the product, it is essential to use low outlet air temperatures to avoid denaturation. Two-stage drying is therefore recommended. As the solids content of the concentrate is low due to the high protein content, the spray drying plants are always equipped with bag filters.

Today, there is a tendency to produce agglomerated instant whey proteins. Due to the lack of lactose as binder, especially in 80 % WPC, agglomeration is difficult. However, by selecting the Multi Stage Dryer MSD™, it is possible to obtain sufficient agglomeration. As the proteins are very hydrophilic, they will absorb water instantaneously at first contact with water, which makes the dispersion difficult. By agglomeration and lecithination, water absorption is delayed long enough to allow the powder to be dispersed in the water before the final dissolution. The powder has the same applications as the concentrates, but has the supreme advantage of an almost infinite keeping quality.