GEA Process Engineering design and supply complete process lines for whey and whey derivates - WPC, permeate, lactose, mother liquor a.o.

A key aspect in whey powder production is flexibility as the market has proved to change over time with new products being in demand. That is one of the reasons why many companies work with GEA Process Engineering. We supply whey processing plant that meets the customers exact requirements - build on proven technology.  


Producing whey powders - the process

Membrane filtration
Membrane filtration
Whey reception, pre-treatment and storage:
Here the product is received, either as raw whey or pre-concentrated whey and stored ready for further processing. If you want WPC as the end product, the whey is passed through a membrane filtration plant to produce WPC concentrate and permeate.

  • Evaporation:
    90% or more of the water in the whey or permeate is evaporated here under gentle conditions at low temperature and under vacuum. As it only costs 10% of the energy to remove water in an evaporator compared to a spray dryer, it is desirable to remove as much water as possible here. 60-65% total solid in the concentrate is generally accepted as the goal of the industry. Depending on pH and the content of Calcium and Phosphates, it may be necessary to make intermediate cleanings every 6-10 hours. The WPC concentrate (35 and 60% protein content) is also pre-evaporated before drying whereas WPC 80% and above is dried directly from the membrane plant. The evaporated water from the product is condensed during the process and leaves the evaporator as water at 50-60 degrees Celsius. This water can be used to preheat the drying air for the spray dryer, and energy is saved. If the water is then passed through a membrane filtration plant to “polish” it, it can then also be used as potable water.

  • Pre-crystallization:
    Whey and permeate concentrate needs to be pre crystallized before spray drying to produce a non-caking and non- hygroscopic powder. If the end product is lactose , then the pre-crystallized concentrate is passed through a decanter to separate and wash the lactose crystals before drying.

  • Lactose dryer:
    The lactose dryer is a fluid bed dryer, where the remaining water (8-10%) on the lactose crystals is dried.

  • GEA Niro Spray Dryer
    GEA Niro Spray Dryer
    Spray dryers:
    GEA Niro has designed many different types of spray dryers all with the aim to produce whey and permeate powder. These spray dryers can also be used for other dairy products.

    • Conventional spray dryer SD
      This is a conventional type of spray dryer that can be delivered with a pneumatic conveying system or a VIBRO-FLUIDIZER™ as an after dryer.

    • Multi-Stage Dryer MSD™
      A spray dryer with great flexibility and good drying economy. It is equipped with an integrated back- mix fluid bed and a VIBRO-FLUIDIZER™. The product will be agglomerated when discharged from the dryer. If you want to produce whey with 30-50% fat, then the Multi-Stage Dryer is an obvious choice.

      A conventional type spray dryer with a ring-formed integrated fluid bed and a VIBRO-FLUIDIZER™ for after drying and cooling. This spray dryer is ideal if you want to produce fat enriched whey with up to 30% fat.

    • Integrated Filter Dryer IFD™
      This dryer combines all the features from the Multi-Stage Dryer and COMPACT DRYER™ in one vessel. It has quick CIP turn-around time.

      The TALL FORM DRYER™ is used if you want to produce a 100% non-caking and non-hygroscopic whey or permeate powder. This plant is equipped with a crystallization belt between the drying chamber and VIBRO-FULIDIZER™. On the belt, the powder - with up to 15% residual moisture content - will have enough time for the remaining lactose to crystallize before the final drying. 

    • FILTERMAT™ Spray Dryer 
      The FILTERMAT™ Spray Dryer is ideal for drying whey and permeate powders as they contain a high amount of the carbohydrate: lactose. Also, whey powder with more than 50% fat can be dried in the FILTERMAT™ Spray Dryer. The product exhibits a coarse powder structure with excellent flow properties.

  • Powder handling and storage of powder:
    When the powder leaves the spray dryer, it is by means of air conveyed to powder silos before final packing, either in Big-Bags or 25kg bags.

  • Bagging-off equipment:
    A fully automatic bagging off line for Big-Bags and 25 kg bags is typically part of a complete process line for milk powder. Our AVAPAC equipment is well known for its accuracy and with capacities up to 18 tons/h 8 (and that is 720 bags of 25 kg powder each hour) and with little or no man power needed.

Turn-key supply

Utility piping, electrical installation, erection and commissioning is a fundamental part of any turn-key supply from GEA Process Engineering as well as our skilled Project Management. Last but not least, our skilled Product and Process Specialists will participate during the final fine-tuning of the plant and training of the plant operators.