Focused beam reflectance measurement as a tool for in situ monitoring of the lactose crystallization process

K. Pandalaneni, J. K. Amamcharla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Lactose accounts for about 75 and 85% of the solids in whey and deproteinized whey, respectively. Production of lactose is usually carried out by a process called crystallization. Several factors including rate of cooling, presence of impurities, and mixing speed influence the crystal size characteristics. To optimize the lactose crystallization process parameters to maximize the lactose yield, it is important to monitor the crystallization process. However, efficient in situ tools to implement at concentrations relevant to the dairy industry are lacking. The objective of the present work was to use a focused beam reflectance measurement (FBRM) system for in situ monitoring of lactose crystallization at supersaturated concentrations (wt/wt) 50, 55, and 60% at 20 and 30°C. The FBRM data were compared with Brix readings collected using a refractometer during isothermal crystallization. Chord length distributions obtained from FBRM in the ranges of <50 μm (fine crystals) and 50 to 300 μm (coarse crystals) were recorded and evaluated in relation to the extent of crystallization and rate constants deduced from the refractometer measurements. Extent of crystallization and rate constants increased with increasing supersaturation concentration and temperature. The measured fine crystal counts from FBRM increased at higher supersaturated concentration and temperature during isothermal crystallization. On the other hand, coarse counts were observed to increase with decreasing supersaturated concentration and temperature. Square weighted chord length distribution obtained from FBRM showed that as concentration increased, a decrease in chord lengths occurred at 20°C and similar observations were made from microscopic images. The robustness of FBRM in understanding isothermal lactose crystallization at various concentrations and temperatures was successfully assessed in the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number74549
Pages (from-to)5244-5253
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center (St. Paul, MN) for their financial support. This is Kansas State Research and Extension contribution number 16-088-J.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Dairy Science Association.


  • Chord length distribution
  • Lactose concentration
  • Lactose crystallization kinetics


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