Classically, microfiltration (0.1–0.5 µm) of bovine skim milk is performed at warm temperatures (45–55 °C), to produce micellar casein and milk-derived whey protein ingredients. Microfiltration at these temperatures is associated with high initial permeate flux and allows for the retention of the casein fraction, resulting in a whey protein fraction of high purity. Increasingly, however, the microfiltration of skim milk and other dairy streams at low temperatures (≤20 °C) is being used in the dairy industry. The trend towards cold filtration has arisen due to associated benefits of improved microbial quality and reduced fouling, allowing for extended processing times, improved product quality and opportunities for more sustainable processing. Performing microfiltration of skim milk at low temperatures also alters the protein profile and mineral composition of the resulting processing streams, allowing for the generation of new ingredients. However, the use of low processing temperatures is associated with high mechanical energy consumption to compensate for the increased viscosity, and thermal energy consumption for inline cooling, impacting the sustainability of the process. This review will examine the differences between warm and cold microfiltration in terms of membrane performance, partitioning of bovine milk constituents, microbial growth, ingredient innovation and process sustainability.
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