A PhD focused on increasing the energy efficiency of milk powder production has led University of Waikato engineering graduate Tim Walmsley to a full-time job with the very research group within which he worked as a PhD candidate.
“My PhD research demonstrated that steam use in a typical New Zealand milk powder factory could decrease by 10% if exhaust heat recovery for the milk dryer is installed. Lab scale tests indicated issues relating to milk powder build-up and fouling, which is a key reason why dairy companies choose not to install this energy efficient technology, can be avoided through smart heat recuperator design and purposefully not being greedy in recovering heat,” says Tim.
His position as a Research Fellow came about when the University of Waikato’s Energy Research Group was awarded a three-year grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) late last year.
“Fonterra, Windsor Engineering and the Energy Education Trust co-funded our research bid and a significant part of this successful proposal continues on from my PhD research.”
The next step in his research is to prove his design solution at a pilot-scale level before further up-scaling to a full-size New Zealand milk spray dryer. “A milk spray dryer exhaust heat recovery project is a million dollar investment and a pilot scale installation will help de-risk and bring greater certainty around the economics of a full-scale project.”
While studying towards his PhD, Tim won a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship, the Todd Foundation Scholarship in Energy Research, and a Claude McCarthy Conference Travel scholarship. These scholarships supported him through his three years of study towards a PhD in engineering, which he completed in June 2014, and provided the opportunity for him to present his work at two international engineering conferences.