Eco-Efficiency of Milk Membrane Filtration Processes

Project entitled:

Industrial Research Chair NSERC-Novalait in Efficiency of Milk Processing Methods

Yves Pouliot, Christian Bouchard, Laurent Bazinet, Alain Doyen, Steve Labrie, Michel Britten, Manuele Margn


  • The dairy processing sector is currently developing an innovative industrial approach to optimize the energy efficiency of the processes used.
  • Membrane separation technologies have been identified as a research model due to their widespread use in the processing chain for milk and its co-products. These processes are likely to have a positive and significant effect on reductions in production costs (purchasing and replacing membranes), the use of natural resources (water, energy) and the generation of waste (sweet and acidic whey, wash water, etc.) that must be treated.
  • Research conducted by the NSERC-Novalait Chair on Process Efficiency in Dairy Technology aims to optimize the use of natural dairy components while improving membrane process efficiency. These improvements will allow for the development of innovative solutions that can be applied in the short term in the dairy processing industry.
  • The research has focused on process improvement with regard to energy efficiency. The experimental approach for each of these aspects of the project involves an impact evaluation as well as a characterization of the state of the system’s constituents, which allows for the development of hypotheses concerning the potential points to be improved upon in regards to process efficiency.



The research completed by the Chair aims to:

  • Identify new approaches that will improve the use of milk’s natural components while minimizing the environmental impact of processes (water, energy, losses/waste).
  • Develop measuring tools and the appropriate inventory methods in order to be able to quantify the effects of processes on energy efficiency parameters for dairy processing.
  • Apply the new tools to problems concerning the processing of milk and its co-products.

Results and potential benefits

Economic benefits:

  • Increased productivity: the contribution of filtration parameters on the appearance of clogging and the increased energy consumption of baromembrane systems during the fractioning of dairy components helps generate useful data that can be used as a decision-making tool for dairy processors in order to optimize their plant’s efficiency.
  • Reduced processing costs: the study of biofilm establishment mechanisms, their contribution to performance losses in baromembrane processes and the implementation of solutions that help control their long-term formation will help dairy producers to minimize costs related to the replacement and cleaning of membranes.
  • Improved quality of end products: understanding mechanisms related to modifications in the physico-chemical properties of concentrated dairy matrices helps optimize their stability and quality during storage. As a result, this increases their potential for use in cheesemaking.

Environmental benefits:

  • All of the studies related to optimizing filtration parameters in order to control organic and microbiological clogging leads to 1) a reduction in inputs and outputs related to a reduction in energy consumption and cleaning solutions/effluents, as well as optimization of the lifespan of membranes, and allow for 2) the implementation of energy efficiency simulation software adapted to dairy processes, making it possible to test different production scenarios related to economic data (cost of raw materials and resources) as well as environmental data and to choose the most energy efficient option.

Social benefits:

  • As consumers are becoming increasingly socially responsible in their consumption habits, all of the advantages presented above will help to better meet the needs of consumers, in the long-term, from a sustainable development point of view.

Professionals trained

Outgoing researchers working under the Chair are all trained experts with a specific interest in dairy science, process efficiency and sustainable development.

  • Daniel Tremblay-Marchand (MSc) – January 2016***
  • Stéphanie Méthot-Hains (MSc) – April 2016***
  • Dany Mercier-Bouchard (MSc) – December 2016***
  • Camile Gavazzi-April (MSc) – April 2017***
  • Gabrielle Beaulieu-Carbonneau (MSc) – April 2017***
  • Scott Benoit (PhD) – August 2017
  • Agathe Lauzin (PhD) – April 2018
  • Julien Chamberland (PhD) – April 2018

*** Diploma obtained

Financial contributions

  • National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Novalait
  • Canadian Foundation for Innovation (Leadership funds)
  • Université Laval