Integrated Milk Processing System Delivers Sustainable Savings

An Irish milk processor reduces its carbon footprint and boosts capacity with a modular configuration of refrigeration, heat pumps, and a pasteurizer that work seamlessly together.

Aurivo’s heat pump system reclaims and channels excess heat from its cooling system to heat water for the milk pasteurization process, helping to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Aurivo’s heat pump system reclaims and channels excess heat from its cooling system to heat water for the milk pasteurization process, helping to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

When Aurivo, Ireland’s second largest milk processor, upgraded its manufacturing plant in Killygordon in 2019, it took a holistic, sustainable approach. The company installed an integrated milk processing system designed to increase capacity and reduce its carbon footprint, energy use, and reliance on fossil-fuel-fired water boilers.

Aurivo replaced its outdated, inefficient refrigeration system and pasteurizer with a modular system from GEA’s Sustainable Energy Solutions program, which enables processors to customize and integrate equipment to meet heating and cooling demands efficiently and sustainably. Aurivo’s new integrated configuration consists of refrigeration, heat pumps, and a pasteurizer from GEA.

Outfitted with a skimming separator, automatic standardizing unit, and homogenizer, the pasteurizer processes 45,000 L of milk per hour and works seamlessly with the upgraded refrigeration and heat pumps. GEA’s heat pump technology reclaims and channels excess heat from the new cooling system to heat water for the milk pasteurization process. The pumps remove heat from the cooling system at a low temperature and then uses a small amount of electrical energy to raise the temperature of the heat for the pasteurization process. Thermal buffering balances the load between the cooling and heating sides of the system to further optimize performance.


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A sustainable turn of events

This heat recovery system helps Aurivo to reduce primary energy consumption and its dependence on fossil-fuel-based heating systems like water boilers, which, in turn, cuts carbon emissions. “The new refrigeration and heat pump solutions provide us with 1,200 kW of cooling and roughly the same in heating capacity,” says Stephen Carlin, Aurivo’s engineering manager. “The GEA heat pump that collects and recycles excess energy from the chiller provides us with the remaining energy needed to take the water up to the pasteurization temperature of 78°C or even a couple of degrees higher if required. This has rendered our traditional fuel oil-burning boilers almost redundant for the pasteurization process. In fact, we now only have to turn the boilers on for one hour a week to kick-start each process cycle.” 

Aurivo has reaped a slew of other benefits since it has been using GEA’s modular system of refrigeration, heat pumps, and pasteurizer. The company boosted its hourly milk processing capacity by 80%, allowing it to produce 120 million L of whole, skim, and low-fat milks a year. Because the heat pumps have cut Aurivo’s use of fossil fuels significantly, the company has reduced energy consumption by about 12% and CO2 emissions by more than 181,000 kg per year. In addition, Aurivo has yielded operational savings of about €150,000 annually. And the upgraded facility was awarded the Excellence in Energy Efficient Design Certification from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.


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With the GEA milk processing system in place, Aurivo is looking forward to future growth by taking advantage of the heat pump system’s untapped capacity. “At present, we are only using 50% of the heat pump capacity,” Carlin explains. “If necessary, we could double the amount of hot water produced, and, therefore, potentially double our capacity for pasteurization.”


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