Relative humidity of outlet air: the key parameter to optimize moisture content and water activity of dairy powders

Abstract : The most widely used technique for dehydration of dairy products is spray drying. This is an effective method for preserving biological products as it does not involve severe heat treatment and allows storage of powders at an ambient temperature. The maximum moisture content of a dairy powder (max 4% for skim milk powder) is defined in the product specification in relation to the water activity, and this must be close to 0.2 at 25 degrees C for optimum preservation. From an economic point of view, it is very important to operate as closely as possible to this limit. Many dairy manufacturers and researchers have demonstrated and reported that powder moisture is related to the outlet air temperature, but this is not always true. The aims of this study were to evaluate the direct and indirect relationships between outlet air temperature and moisture content of skim milk powder in relation to the spray-drying parameters ( concentrate mass flow rate, absolute humidity of inlet air and inlet air temperature) using a thermodynamic approach. Our experiments showed that moisture content of skim milk powder can be close to 5.1 +/- 0.0% with variations in outlet air temperature of 77 to 87 degrees C. Other experiments showed that the powder moisture content can vary from 4.6 +/- 0.0% to 5.2 +/- 0.0% even when the outlet air temperature remains close to 86 +/- 1 degrees C. These results indicate that there is no direct relationship between outlet air temperature and powder moisture content. It is preferable to use the Enthalpic Mollier-Ramzine diagram of wet air and certain transfer equations related to the Fick and Fourier laws to demonstrate that the powder moisture content is directly related to the relative humidity ( RH) of the outlet air. The moisture content and water activity of skim milk powder were close to 5.1 +/- 0.0% and 0.27 +/- 0.01 for outlet air RH close to 7.0 +/- 0.1%, respectively, whatever the other drying parameter values. We demonstrated in this study that control of the RH of the outlet air is at least as important as control of the outlet air temperature to optimize the moisture content of a dairy powder, regardless of the absolute humidity of the inlet air, concentrate mass flow rate or inlet air temperature.
Type de document :
Article dans une revue
Dairy Science & Technology, EDP sciences/Springer, 2008, 88 (1), pp.45-52
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Contributeur : Céline Martel <>
Soumis le : vendredi 7 septembre 2012 - 16:01:40
Dernière modification le : mercredi 13 décembre 2017 - 16:52:06

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  • HAL Id : hal-00729902, version 1

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P. Schuck, A. Dolivet, S. Mejean, Romain Jeantet. Relative humidity of outlet air: the key parameter to optimize moisture content and water activity of dairy powders. Dairy Science & Technology, EDP sciences/Springer, 2008, 88 (1), pp.45-52. 〈hal-00729902〉

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