Influence of downstream processing on the breakage of whey protein precipitates

S.P. Heffernan, N. Zumaeta, G.M. Cartland-Glover, E.P. Byrne, J.J. Fitzpatrick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Whey proteins may be fractionated by isoelectric precipitation followed by centrifugal recovery of the precipitate phase. Transport and processing of protein precipitates may alter the precipitate particle properties, which may affect how they behave in subsequent processes. For example, the transport of precipitate solution through pumps, pipes and valves and into a centrifugal separator may cause changes in particle size and density, which may affect the performance of the separator. This work investigates the effect of fluid flow intensity, flow geometry and exposure time on the breakage of whey protein precipitates: Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was used to quantify the flow intensity in different geometries. Flow geometry can have a critical impact on particle breakage. Sharp geometrical transitions induce large increases in turbulence that can result in substantial particle breakage. As protein precipitate particles break, they tend to form denser more compact structures. The reduction in particle size and increase in compaction is due to breakage. This makes the particles become more resistant to further breakage as particle compactness increases. The effect of flow intensity on particle breakage is coupled to exposure time, with greater exposure time producing more breakage. However, it is expected that the particles will attain an equilibrium particle size and density after prolonged exposure in a constant flow field where no further breakage will occur with exposure time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)238-244
    Number of pages7
    JournalFood and Bioproducts Processing
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005


    • particle breakage
    • protein recovery
    • downstream processing
    • CFD


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