From the moment it was announced that Fonterra had awarded GEA Process Engineering the contract to build this milestone dairy spray dryer, it has attracted considerable interest in the industry. The dryer, Darfield D2, is the second of two at Fonterra’s Darfield milk processing site in New Zealand, and it has the capacity to convert around four and a half million litres of fresh liquid milk into milk powder every day.
Clint Brown, Managing Director for GEA Process Engineering in New Zealand, explained what makes the plant so special: “It’s a truly modern plant designed to be the most efficient in the industry – in terms of Overall Equipment Efficiency, waste minimization and energy consumption – and to meet Fonterra’s need for processing capacity.”
Prior to Darfield D2, this capacity could not be achieved by a single dryer. To meet the challenge, a huge effort was put into the design phase where all components of the complete process line were examined and optimized, using the latest knowledge within the fields of milk powder and process technology. Next, advanced CFD modelling techniques were applied for the purpose of further optimization and validation of the design for all critical parts.
Darfield D2, commissioned in August 2013 for the beginning of the New Zealand milking season, has worked practically non-stop for the last nine months, and has now concluded its first year of operation. At the peak of the season, the dryer produced more than 700 tonnes of milk powder a day.
According to Richard Gray, Fonterra’s Operations Manager for the Canterbury region, the first season has been a success: “The drier commissioning was very successful, and we saw continued plant performance through the first operational season. The collaborative relationship between GEA and Fonterra set the foundation for a great project and a great plant. Drier 2 at Darfield plays an important role in Fonterra’s strategy to meet the strong demand for dairy nutrition around the world.”