The history of evaporation
Evaporation of milk has been known for many years, even as early as in the year of 1200 when Marco Polo described the production of a paste like milk concentrate in Mongolia. Then 600 years pass before we again find concentrated milk in the literature, but from then on the development progressed rapidly with numerous patents applied for.
The most simple evaporator is an ordinary open pan heated with steam or direct gas. The evaporation takes place from the surface while the liquid to be evaporated is heated up to the boiling point corresponding to the ambient pressure, which at sea level will be 100 °C and in an altitude of approx. 5000 m above sea level 85 °C.As the evaporation has to take place from the surface, which is limited in relation to the content of the pan, the evaporation will naturally take long time. The milk will be exposed to the high temperature with a deterioration of the proteins, chemical reactions such as the Maillard reaction, or even coagulation as a result.
As the development went on, the concentration was carried out in forced recirculation evaporators. In this evaporator the milk streams upwards through a number of tubes or plates. On the outside the heating medium, usually steam, is applied. The heating surface is thus increased in this system, but the evaporation surface is still limited, as the tubes and plates remain filled with product, which therefore becomes superheated in relation to the existing boiling temperature. Not until the product leaves the top of the tubes, are the vapours released and the product temperature decreases. For the separation of liquid and vapours, centrifugal separators were preferred. In order to obtain the desired degree of evaporation the product was recycled in the system. The concentration was thus controlled by the amount of concentrate discharged from the plant. Fig. 1 shows a diagram of a forced recirculation evaporator.
Fig 1. Reinforced circulation evaporator