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J Dairy Sci. 2011 Mar;94(3):1165-75. doi: 10.3168/jds.2010-3739.

Evaluation of commercially available, wide-pore ultrafiltration membranes for production of α-lactalbumin-enriched whey protein concentrate.

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Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, Department of Dairy Science, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57007, USA.


Commercially available, wide-pore ultrafiltration membranes were evaluated for production of α-lactalbumin (α-LA)-enriched whey protein concentrate (WPC). In this study microfiltration was used to produce a prepurified feed that was devoid of casein fines, lipid materials, and aggregated proteins. This prepurified feed was subsequently subjected to a wide-pore ultrafiltration process that produced an α-LA-enriched fraction in the permeate. We evaluated the performance of 3 membrane types and a range of transmembrane pressures. We determined that the optimal process used a polyvinylidene fluoride membrane (molecular weight cut-off of 50 kDa) operated at transmembrane pressure (TMP) of 207 kPa. This membrane type and operating pressure resulted in α-LA purity of 0.63, α-LA:β-LG ratio of 1.41, α-LA yield of 21.27%, and overall flux of 49.46 L/m(2)·h. The manufacturing cost of the process for a hypothetical plant indicated that α-LA-enriched WPC 80 (i.e., with 80% protein) could be produced at $17.92/kg when the price of whey was considered as an input cost. This price came down to $16.46/kg when the price of whey was not considered as an input cost. The results of this study indicate that production of a commercially viable α-LA-enriched WPC is possible and the process developed can be used to meet worldwide demand for α-LA-enriched whey protein.

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