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Published in Hygiene
Graphite-based composites for whey protein fouling and bacterial adhesion management

Dairy industries are burdened by fouling phenomena that increase costs and environmental impacts of thermal processes. One remedial solution could be to replace stainless-steel equipment by other materials less prone to fouling. 

Researchers from the Université de Lille (France) studied the fouling behaviour and hygienic features of two hydrophobic and non-polar commercial graphite-based composites (Graphilor XC and XTH) that were exposed to isothermal whey protein fouling in an industrial pasteurization unit and to foodborne pathogenic bacterial strains, namely Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica.

Both composites exhibited impressive fouling-release properties: a simple 20 min water rinse was enough to remove all dairy deposit after 1.5 h of pasteurization, as opposed to usual heavy clean-in-place procedures. The composites also showed a significant effect on bacterial adhesion, exhibiting lower cell counts than stainless-steel surfaces.

These results, published on the International Dairy Journal (86, 69-75, 2018), suggest that graphite-based materials might successfully replace stainless steel as equipment material to reduce fouling in dairy fouling industries.