In August 2013 the world’s largest dairy Spray Dryer was put into operation by New Zealand based Fonterra at their site near Darfield, New Zealand. The Spray Dryer has a capacity to produce 30 tonnes milk powder/hour by converting around four and a half million litres of fresh liquid milk each day.

The largest and most efficient plant in the industry

Clint Brown, Managing Director for GEA Process Engineering in New Zealand, explains what makes the plant so special: ‘It is truly a 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 on a single dryer. To accomplish the challenge a huge effort was made during the design phase to examine and optimize all components for the complete process line using the latest knowledge in milk powder and process technology. Advanced CFD modelling techniques were then used to further optimize and confirm the design for all critical parts.

Darfield D2 was commissioned in August 2013 for the start of the New Zealand milking season. At the peak of the season the dryer produced more than 700 tons of milk powder each day. Richard Gray, Fonterra’s Operations Manager for the Canterbury region commented on the first season: ‘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 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.’



Fonterra’s Darfield site is located 45 km from Christchurch, New Zealand. The site includes two milk powder spray drying plants both built by GEA. The first was put into operation in 2012 with a capacity of 15 tons/hour and the second, Darfield D2, was completed a year later with a capacity of 30 tons/hour.

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