An integrated mechanical-enzymatic reverse osmosis treatment of dairy industry wastewater and milk protein recovery as a fat replacer: a closed loop approach
AbstractThe dairy industry can be classified among the most polluting of the food industries in volume in regard to its large water consumption, generating from 0.2 to 10 L of effluent per liter of processed milk. Dairy industry effluents usually include highly dissolved organic matter with varying characteristics, and a correct waste management project is required to handle. In a framework of natural water resource availability and cost increase, wastewater treatment for water reuse can lower the overall water consumption and the global effluent volume of industrial plants. Moreover, correct dismissal of dairy industry wastewater is sometimes neglected by the operators , increasing the environmental impact due to the chemical and biological characteristics of such effluents. On the other hand, in the case of whey effluents, several by-products are still present inside, such as lactose and milk proteins. Membrane technology has some advantages including a high degree of reliability in removing dissolved, colloidal and particulate matter, like the selectivity in size of pollutants to be removed and the possibility of very compact treatment plants. For example, Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology has been successfully applied for the treatment of dairy wastes (1), and as a technology for concentration and fractionation of whey. In this work a membrane treatment approach using reverse osmosis technology is investigated and implemented: the permeate obtained can be reused as clean warm water for cleaning and sanitation of production plants, while concentrated milk proteins are modified by using transglutaminase enzyme obtaining a high temperature resistant fat replacer to be used in different low-fat products like for example mozzarella cheese.
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