Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


High-quality whey proteins for foodstuffs

Whey resulting from cheese production contains valuable proteins that still often remain unused.

In the EU-funded project Whey2Food the University of Hohenheim and the Fraunhofer IGB, together with partners from industry, are investigating how high-quality whey proteins can be obtained for food with the assistance of a new electromembrane process.

Whey, which occurs as a waste material from cheese production, contains valuable proteins. In the project Whey2Food these proteins are selectively enriched for use in food products.

© Universität Hohenheim

The production of cheese and casein results in large quantities of whey. 81 million tonnes of the watery waste material come together per year in the EU alone. Nowadays about 40 per cent of this is already processed by filtration to make whey concentrate and further processed to provide a wide range of whey products. However, most of the whey still remains unused.

In addition to lactose and minerals, whey contains above all valuable milk proteins. Dr. Ana Lucia Vásquez, who heads the project at the IGB, describes the economic potential and the objective of the new project: “The proteins could be used in the food industry as a natural binding agent and as emulsifiers.” She further explains: “They are equally well suited as a functional food supplement in baby formula or dietary foods or as a source of proteins in sports drinks for athletes.”

For these applications the proteins first of all have to be isolated from the whey. There are already basic methods of obtaining specific milk proteins, for example the antithrombogenic casein macropeptide, from whey. However, the chromatographic techniques used for this purpose are complex and are not suitable for a high throughput. Whey concentrate is obtained by means of ultrafiltration. In this process the little whey molecules – water, minerals and lactose – pass through the pores of a membrane while proteins are retained. But here the proteins are only concentrated as a whole, but not separated according to functional protein fractions. Additionally, residues are quickly deposited on the membranes. This fouling impairs the filtration capability so that the membranes frequently have to be cleaned.

To enrich proteins selectively and to add them to foods in accordance with their nutritional or technological-functional properties, the Whey2Food project intends to further develop an electromembrame process initially investigated at the University of Hohenheim. “The method combines pressure filtration through a porous membrane with an electric field. The proteins are not only separated according to their size, but at the same time according to their charge,” Vásquez explains. Compared with ultrafiltration this increases the yield and reduces the cleaning required. “In preliminary tests trials we were able to demonstrate that peptides or protein fragments such as casein macropeptide can be separated from two further typical whey proteins, alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin, with the help of the electromembrane process,” says Professor Dr.-Ing. Jörg Hinrichs from the Institute of Food Science and Biotechnology at the University of Hohenheim.

Now the researchers want to optimize the process for industrially relevant quantities and in conformity with the hygiene and cleaning standards required for food manufacturers. “We will then test the process under realistic conditions in continuous operation with an automated pilot plant on the premises of our project partners Rovita and Schwarzwaldmilch,” says Vásquez. A further advantage of the electromembrane process is a reduction of the fouling. This also lowers the operating costs and the energy consumption.

Since the 1st November 2013 the project “Whey2Food – Enhanced protein fractionation from protein sources for their use in special food applications” is being funded within the scope of the EU-funded 7th Framework Research Program (Grant Agreement No. 605807). The German research partners Fraunhofer IGB and the University of Hohenheim as well as the Belgian VITO institute are developing the process together with a European consortium of companies.

Dr. Claudia Vorbeck | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Nanopores could take the salt out of seawater
12.11.2015 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Coking of fluid fuels - New procedure shall analyze and avoid reasons
06.11.2015 | Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Harnessing a peptide holds promise for increasing crop yields without more fertilizer

25.11.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Earth's magnetic field is not about to flip

25.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

25.11.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>