The hidden potential in dairies
Dairies use water for many different stages in the production process. There are often potential savings to be made here in terms of resources and energy. To achieve this, however, an integral view is required, since the cycles used in dairies, which have often grown over the years, are highly complex.
Water is ubiquitous within the milk industry. Whether a dairy is processing fresh milk, making cheese, or producing dry powder, it relies on fresh water (for cleaning), boiler feed water, and cooling water. Even the wastewater that is produced has to be cleaned. 'There are often many different water flows and cycles,' explains Eva John, project engineer at Envirochemie. 'If you consider these collectively and as a whole, there are various potential savings to be made in most cases.' That said, many milk companies tend to focus on selective aspects of water, with wastewater being a particular favourite.
And then, of course, there is a whole host of other different aspects to consider. One of the major growth markets within the sector - the production of milk powder that is primarily exported to Asia or Africa - provides a prime example. The water is evaporated from the milk, whereby around 880 millilitres of water - the vapour condensate - is removed from a single litre of raw milk. This water is suitable for drinking, despite containing milk-based residues. As long as it is prepared appropriately, it can certainly still be used. Once treated, the vapour condensate can then be used as cleaning water so the dairy does not have to waste fresh water.