Drying foodstuffs has long been known to be an excellent way of preserving food. Dairy products first received this treatment way back in the 19th century and today huge quantities of milk, buttermilk and whey are dried to produced powdered milk. The advantages to this approach for the dairy processing industry are numerous and include major reductions in product weight (and thus reductions in the cost of transportation) and a far longer shelf life. The most common way of drying dairy products is the spray drying process.
Spray drying for dairy products also presents some very specific challenges. As is the case with the wider farming industry, changes in local weather conditions and seasonal variations must be adapted to in order to deliver the best possible outcomes in the spray drying dairy industry. With spray drying, fluctuating humidity in particular is an issue, as this can damage product quality and consistency.
The role of dehumidifiers in the spray drying process
We’ve established that in the spray drying of milk powder – and indeed other foodstuffs – humidity control matters. How exactly does a desiccant air dryer system help tackle this problem? Well, by controlling the humidity of the air entering the drying chamber or tower. In other words, by lowering humidity to a consistent, steady level, the dried air can be heated to higher temperatures than would be possible if it contained more moisture. If the air’s humidity is predictable, the way in which it will interact with the food substances in the tower will also be more predictable.
All this adds up to multiple benefits for the spray drying dairy industry. Production levels will be consistent, regardless of what the weather is like outside or the time of year. Products are less likely to stick to the walls of the drying tower, meaning production disruption is minimized. Tower drying capacities are increased, thanks to the dryer input air. And less energy is required for the same end result!