Evaluation of commercially available, wide-pore ultrafiltration membranes for production of α-lactalbumin-enriched whey protein concentrate

J Dairy Sci. 2011 Mar;94(3):1165-75. doi: 10.3168/jds.2010-3739.


Commercially available, wide-pore ultrafiltration membranes were evaluated for production of α-lactalbumin (α-LA)-enriched whey protein concentrate (WPC). In this study microfiltration was used to produce a prepurified feed that was devoid of casein fines, lipid materials, and aggregated proteins. This prepurified feed was subsequently subjected to a wide-pore ultrafiltration process that produced an α-LA-enriched fraction in the permeate. We evaluated the performance of 3 membrane types and a range of transmembrane pressures. We determined that the optimal process used a polyvinylidene fluoride membrane (molecular weight cut-off of 50 kDa) operated at transmembrane pressure (TMP) of 207 kPa. This membrane type and operating pressure resulted in α-LA purity of 0.63, α-LA:β-LG ratio of 1.41, α-LA yield of 21.27%, and overall flux of 49.46 L/m(2)·h. The manufacturing cost of the process for a hypothetical plant indicated that α-LA-enriched WPC 80 (i.e., with 80% protein) could be produced at $17.92/kg when the price of whey was considered as an input cost. This price came down to $16.46/kg when the price of whey was not considered as an input cost. The results of this study indicate that production of a commercially viable α-LA-enriched WPC is possible and the process developed can be used to meet worldwide demand for α-LA-enriched whey protein.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Food Handling / economics
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Lactalbumin / analysis*
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Milk Proteins / chemistry*
  • Pressure
  • Ultrafiltration / methods
  • Whey Proteins


  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Lactalbumin