Applying Supercritical UV technology to the dairy sector

AGMARDT funding is helping take a revolutionary new UV treatment technology to the dairy sector where it has potential to significantly reduce biosecurity risk and improve animal well-being.

Super critical UV (SCUV) is a patented technology designed at Massey University. SCUV is a potentially simple and cost-effective solution for rapidly disinfecting low clarity liquids like industrial effluent, juice, wine, and milk for which standard UV treatment is not normally considered feasible due to these liquids’ low ‘UV transmissivity’ (UVT).

SCUV is also potentially a cost-effective way to enhance the shelf life of products and treat them far more cheaply than other methods like pasteurisation – without high temperatures that impact nutrition and flavour.

Led by Professor Andy Shilton, who has a PhD in Environmental Engineering and more than 25 years’ experience working in solutions for water and wastewater treatment, Massey has already developed a market-ready industrial scale SCUV system.

Now Professor Shilton and his team are testing a prototype for the dairy industry – where SCUV has multiple potential benefits including reducing the biosecurity risks from waste milk and effluent.

Professor Shilton says farmers are particularly interested in the ability of SCUV to lift the quality of milk fed to calves by reducing potential disease spread, especially if the waste milk derives from multiple farms.

From talking to stakeholders a prototype has been refined and has been tested on milk spiked with E.Coli and Bacillus cereus spores and was shown to be effective and fit for purpose for the next stage of long term rigorous testing.

Professor Shilton says without AGMARDT funding this critical stage of the work wouldn’t have been possible.

“While we had been able to undertake preliminary testing that indicated potential, without this AGMARDT funding the young Bio/Chem Research Engineer that we had trained in this area would have had to be laid off and work on applying Supercritical UV technology to the dairy sector would have ceased.

“This funding gave us the opportunity to continue and enabled us to secure co-funding from Fonterra to apply for a second stage of AGMARDT funding that will allow longer-term testing including on-farm trials.”

This work will build a rigorous data set to allow practical proof of concept and economic feasibility analysis.

“Ultimately this work has the potential to provide a significant reduction of biosecurity risk, improvement in animal well-being and lift in profitability across New Zealand’s dairy sector.”