'It makes sense to have very large spray dryers... but certainly not everywhere': GEA


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'It makes sense to have very large spray dryers... but certainly not everywhere': GEA

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Demand for spray dryers the size of the one installed at Fonterra’s Darfield plant is unlikely to spread to Europe, says GEA.

Thorvald Ullum, vice president of technology at GEA Process Engineering in Copenhagen, told DairyReporter.com at Anuga Foodtec in Cologne that there is “a limit to building them and it still being a good idea.”

In 2013, GEA completed the installation of a spray dryer - dubbed 'the world's largest' - at Fonterra’s Darfield plant capable of producing 30 tonnes of milk powder per hour.

Spray dryers of such size are, however, unlikely to be seen in Europe, said Ullum.

“They have also increased in size in Europe and elsewhere, but I have to be honest and say that Fonterra in New Zealand is the forerunner in large spray dryers. They’ll probably continue to do that," ​he said.

“We have not built these very large spray dryers anywhere other than in New Zealand.”

“I think in some areas it makes sense to have very large spray dryers, like in New Zealand, but certainly not everywhere," ​Ullum continued.

There is no doubt, however, that spray dryers installed by European dairies will increase in size, said Ullum.

“What will happen in the future is probably that people will for larger and larger spray dryers," ​he said.

“There is a saving to be made from going up to one big one compared to two small ones. It may not be a large percentage but in terms of money it is a large amount.”

"I don't think we have seen the limit"

Air is fed into the spray dryer at Fonterra's Darfield plant by four GEA Niro Direct Duct Dispenser (DDD) air dispensers.


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Thorvald Ullum and GEA's DDD air dispenser at Anuga Foodtec.

ust one DDD unit, which GEA exhibited at Anuga Foodtec this week, is typically required for a spray dryer.

Seemingly pleased with its investment, New Zealand-based Fonterra has since contracted GEA to install an identical spray dryer its Lichfield plant.

Once fully operational, the dryer will have the capability to convert 4.4m litres of milk per day into around 700 tonnes of whole milk powder (WMP).

Asked how large units could get, Ullum said: "I don't think we have seen the limit yet."

In the next five to 10 years, Ullum expects to exceed the 30m tonnes per hour benchmark it set.

"We are already discussing it at the moment and we are thinking how we are going to make this in a proper way because this is not something you do in a month's time," ​he said.

"You Need to start thinking way ahead of that. So we are starting to get our heads around the way it should look if we were to increase it in size even more."

There is, however, a limit, he added.

"They will probably become bigger than they are today, but there will be a limit somewhere because at some point you will lose a lot of flexibility," ​he said.

"If something goes wrong with that dryer, whatever may happen, you would lose a lot of flexibility."

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