Cream Separator


Cream separators are machines used to separate the fatty content of milk from its watery constituents in order to produce cream.

The earliest cream separators were worked with a hand crank to initiate the centrifugal process. This source of power was later supplemented with the installation of steam turbine engines connected to the separators by a belt drive and later still with the widespread availability of electricity. For a period of time the separators were also powered by horses who walked on a treadmill to provide power.

History


In 1864 the German inventor and brewer Antonin Prandtl of Munich developed the first centrifugal separator for use in the dairy industry. The machine had an appearance similar to centrifugal milk testers in use at the time. It consisted of a vertical axis that was rotated by a crank handle on which a crossbar containing two small buckets were mounted. The milk was poured into the buckets and after it had been separated the cream would be skimmed off from the underlying skim milk. It is believed that in the course of his experiments he obtained actual butter by the excessive time he turned the machine.

Later in 1870 the Reverend H. F. Bond of Massachusetts invented a similar centrifugal machine that dispensed with the buckets and in their place used small glass jars with the central axis being a wooden pole balanced on a pivot. It was capable of revolving at only 200 revolutions per minute. These early experiments proved it was possible to produce cream by the use of a centrifugal machine, but neither proved to be commercially viable due to the limited quantities they could produce.

An advance towards the modern separator came in 1874 with the exhibition of a separator by Wilhelm Lefeldt, a German engineer at a Dairy Exposition. The machine could separate 220 pounds of milk in a time of between 25 to 40 minutes, but took an additional 25 to 30 minutes for the drum to cease rotating. This early design had a siphon to drain the remnant skim milk and a valve at the bottom to extract the cream. It was modified three years later in 1877 with the introduction of a tube that could drain the cream while the machine was in motion as it collected towards the centre of the drum. The skim milk would then be removed after the machine had ceased rotating. Lefeldt and his partner Carl Lentsch applied and were awarded a patent for their design on September 25, 1877.

Up until 1875 the design of cream separator prevented milk from being added to the machine while in use. Another innovation in the historical development of the cream separator came in this year with the invention of the continuous cream separator by Antonin Prandtl. Though it was never adopted on a commercial scale, the machine heralded a new era of the design of cream separators. It is claimed by the noted German dairy scientist Fleischamnn that the new type of separator was adopted simultaneously in 1879 throughout the dairy industries of Sweden, Denmark and Germany. One of the most well known manufacturers of the continuous centrifugal cream separator was the Alpha Laval Separator Company based in Stockholm, Sweden. The company was responsible for an innovation in the design of separators occurring in 1890 that later became a ubiquitous component of the machines.
The Alpha Disc bowl was invented which consisted of a series of conical steel discs that were placed in a series in the separator bowl and were spaced slightly apart by thin caulks. This design dramatically improved the efficiency of the machine and enabled for the shrinking of the size of the bowl without reducing its capacity. The company would later go on to make great strides in the improvement of the design of separators, and also became a prominent manufacturer of milking machines.

Early Use of Centrifugal Force for Milk Separation



From Machinery Illustrations


"Early applicatio​n of centrifuga​l force with curved discs that fanned out from a central tube (precursor to 'cone' disc design)"

Technical Aspects


The separator bowl consists of an outer shell that holds a series of conical discs. An inner cylinder (known as the distributor) surrounds the central feed shaft. The distributor was the component of the separator that forced the cream downwards into an outlet that would drain it away.

The cream was delivered near the bottom of the bowl and gradually passed upward from the inner ends of the discs nearest to the cream outlet. The skim milk was similarly passed upwards during centrifugal motion, but due to its density was forced to the outer ends of the discs. In this cavity the skim milk passed towards an outlets where it would be drained into a separate vat or milk can.

The unprocessed milk would be fed into the separator at a constant stream by the use of a vat raised above the bowl. The milk was introduced from the vat by a tap fixture located near its base, and would then flow into a regulating chamber positioned above the bowl system.

The Introduction of Cream Separators to Australia


The introduction of the cream separator into Australian in the 1880s was an event which dramatically shifted farm and factory methods of producing cream, improved hygienic standards and raised the productive capacity of the dairy industry. The first two separators brought to the country were manufactured by the Alpha Laval Separator Co. fromSweden. This company is credited with being the first to manufacture and make commercially available the continuous cream separator machine. The inventor of the machine was Gustav De Laval, but he was not the first to have experimented with centrifugal separation as an alternative to the gravity method of separation.

The first cream separators used inAustraliaare believed to have been brought to the country on board the S.S. Chimbarazo in 1883. They were acquired by Mr. David Lindsay Dymock on behalf of the Fresh Food and Ice Company located in Mittagong and Sydney. The Pioneer Dairy Company, as it was known, was erected in 1883 and opened the following year. A separator was installed at both of the factories operated by the company. D. L. Dymock was also responsible for an early public demonstration of the separator staged at Blow Hole Point in Kiama. This machine was capable of a speed of 750 revolutions a minute. The separator was understandably met by the wonder and curiosity of persons in attendance, but for some the machine invoked alarm. These farmers considered the separator to be far too dangerous machine to view up-close and were reluctant to approach it while in operation.

Image Credits


[1] R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd. "Alexandra​" Cream Separator, Practical Dairying for Australia (J. P. Dowling), 1893, page 137

[2] Dairy Farming in Australia, Commonweal​th Department of Commerce and Agricultur​e, 1950, page 400

[3] Internal parts of a separator bowl, Dairy Farming in Australia, NSW Edition, Commonweal​th Department of Commerce and Agricultur​e, page 401

Museum Objects


Separator_11.jpgCream Separator, painted black cast iron body, hand operated, made by Pera Separator Co., Melbourne [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_1.jpgCream Separator, painted red cast iron body, made by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm, Sweden, sold by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Sydney [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_3.jpgCream Separator, hand operated, painted red cast iron body, made by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_7.jpgCream Separator, hand operated, painted red cast iron body with tin bowl, table-top design, made by R A Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley Ltd. [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_9.jpgCream Separator, hand operated, painted red cast iron body, made by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm, Sweden [Tongarra Museum] [link]

Separator_10.jpgCream Separator, painted red cast iron body, no base, hand operated, made by R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_13.jpgCream Separator, "Baltic", painted black cast iron, hand powered, made by Baltic Separator Co. Ltd., Sydney [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_14.jpgCream Separator, "B", steel, 9 quarts, made by Domo Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_102.JPGCream Separator, No. 00, yellow cast iron body, table top design [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_6.jpgCream Separator, hand operated, painted black cast iron, made by Diabolo Separator Co. Ltd., Sweden [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_4.jpgCream Separator, "No. 5", painted black cast iron body, made by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm, sold by Waugh & Josephson Ltd. (agent), Sydney and Brisbane [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_12.jpgCream Separator, painted red cast iron body, hand operated, made by R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_19.jpgCream Separator, painted white cast iron, hand operated [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]
Separator_16.jpgCream Separator, “Diabolo”, Model No. 109, cast iron, green, body only [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_20.jpgCream Separator, manual, red cast iron body with tinned metal components, made by Alpha Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm [Illawarra Museum] [link]

Separator_2.jpgCream Separator, painted blue cast iron, made by Alfa- Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm, sold by Waugh & Josephson Ltd. (agent), Sydney and Brisbane [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_18.jpgCream Separator, painted red cast iron body, hand operated, tabletop design, made by R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_8.jpgCream Separator, ball bearing, painted red cast iron body, made by Lister, R.A. & Co. Ltd., Dursley [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

Separator_5.jpgCream Separator, made by R A Lister & Co Ltd, Dursley [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_104.JPGCream Separator, red cast iron body, belt driven, missing base [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_15.jpgCream Separator, ball bearing, cast iron and tin, made by R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley; Lister Separator Co. (N.Z.) Ltd. [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_103.JPGCream Separator, red cast iron body, made by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm, Sweden [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_105.JPGCream Separator, green cast iron body, belt driven [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_101.JPGCream Separator, black cast iron body, made by Alfa Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Stockholm, Sweden [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_17.jpgCream Separator, painted black cast iron body and tin parts, belt driven, made by the International Harvester Company, Chicago [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_Discs_2.jpgCream Separator Discs and Drying Rack [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]

Separator_Discs_3.jpgCream Separator Discs, tin, used in centrifugal separators [Bega Pioneers' Museum] [link]

Separator_Discs.jpgCream Separator Discs, multiple [Bega Cheese Heritage Centre] [link]

separator_bowl.jpgBowl, from Alfa- Laval Cream Separator, made by Alfa-Laval Separator Co. Ltd., Sweden [Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum] [link]