Clarification Separation

If raw milk is the starting material in the yogurt or sour cream processing facility, separation is necessary because the starting materials must contain specified fat levels. Separation of milk into skim and cream fractions must be conducted in approved equipment.

Centrifugal separators not only separate the cream and skim fractions but remove solid impurities from milk. Milk is forced through discs with vertically aligned distribution holes at a specific distance from the edge of the disc stack (Fig. 1) (1). Under centrifugal force, milk fat globules and sediment (somatic cells, hair, etc.) are forced radially in the separation channels either outwards or inwards, based on their density relative to that of

Disk Stack Separator Cross Sections

Figure 1 Cross-section of a centrifugal separator bowl with outlets for skim milk (lower) and cream (upper). Milk enters the disk stack at the bottom, through distribution holes. Solids ejection occurs by intermittent opening of the sedimentation space at the periphery of the bowl. (Courtesy of Tetra Pak.)

Figure 1 Cross-section of a centrifugal separator bowl with outlets for skim milk (lower) and cream (upper). Milk enters the disk stack at the bottom, through distribution holes. Solids ejection occurs by intermittent opening of the sedimentation space at the periphery of the bowl. (Courtesy of Tetra Pak.)

the continuous medium (skim milk). The skim milk portion moves outwards toward the boundary of the disc stack and through a channel between the top of the disc stack and the conical hood of the separator bowl to a concentric skim milk outlet. The cream moves inwards in the channels, toward the axis of rotation, to the cream axial outlet, above the skim outlet. Solid impurities are separated and thrown outward along the undersides of the discs to the boundary of the separator bowl and are collected in the sediment space. The solids that collect in the sediment space may be removed manually or automatically, depending on the type of separator. In self-cleaning or solids-ejection separator bowls, solids are ejected at 30- to 60-min intervals during separation, depending on the system. Skim and cream are channeled to receptacles for standardization and further processing (1).

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