Dried Casein, its Manufacture and Uses

For the production of casein, skimmed milk or buttermilk is used, articles of slight value, as they cannot be employed for feeding hogs or for making cheese, except of a very inferior sort, of little or no alimentive qualities. This milk is heated to from 70° to 90° C. (175°~195° F.), and sulphuric or hydrochloric acid is added until it no longer causes precipitation. The precipitate is washed to free it from residual lactose, redissolved in a sodium carbonate solution, and again precipitated, this time by lactic acid. It is again, washed, dried, and pulverized. It takes 8 gallons of skimmed milk to make 1 pound of dry casein.

In the manufacture of fancy papers, or papers that are made to imitate the appearance of various cloths, laces, and silks, casein is very widely used. It is also largely used in waterproofing tissues, for preparation of waterproof products, and various articles prepared from agglomeration of cork (packing boards, etc.). With lime water casein makes a glue that resists heat, steam, etc. It also enters into the manufacture of the various articles made from artificial ivory (billiard balls, combs, toilet boxes, etc.), imitation of celluloid, meerschaum, etc., and is finding new uses every day.

Casein, as known, may act the part of an acid and combine with bases to form caseinates or caseates; among these compounds, caseinates of potash, of soda, and of ammonia are the only ones soluble in water; all the others are insoluble and may be readily prepared by double decomposition. Thus, for example, to obtain caseinate of alumina it is sufficient to add to a solution of casein in caustic soda, a solution of sulphate of alumina; an insoluble precipitate of casein, or caseinate of alumina, is instantly formed.

This precipitate ought to be freed from the sulphate of soda (formed by double decomposition), by means of prolonged washing. Pure, ordinary cellulose may be incorporated with it by this process, producing a new compound, cheaper than pure cellulose, although possessing the same properties, and capable of replacing it in all its applications.

According to the results desired, in transparency, color, hardness, etc., the most suitable caseinate should be selected. Thus, if a translucent compound is to be obtained, the caseinate of alumina yields the best. If a white compound is desired, the caseinate of zinc, or of magnesia, should be chosen; and for colored products the caseinates of iron, copper, and nickel will give varied tints.

The process employed for the new products, with a base of celluloid and caseinate, is as follows: On one hand casein is dissolved in a solution of caustic soda (100 parts of water for 10 to 25 parts of soda), and this liquid is filtered to separate the matters not dissolved and the impurities. On the other hand, a salt of the base of which the caseinate is desired is dissolved, and the solution filtered. It is well not to operate on too concentrated a solution. The two solutions are mixed in a receptacle provided with a mechanical stirrer, in order to obtain the insoluble caseinate precipitate in as finely divided a state as possible. This precipitate should be washed thoroughly, so as to free it from the soda salt formed by double decomposition, but on account of its gummy or pasty state, this washing presents certain difficulties, and should be done carefully. After the washing the mass is freed from the greater part of water contained, by draining, followed by drying, or energetic pressing; then it is washed in alcohol, dried or pressed again, and is ready to be incorporated in the plastic mass of the celluloid.

For the latter immersion and washing it has been found that an addition of 1 to 5 per cent of borax is advantageous, for it renders the mass more plastic, and facilitates the operation of mixing. This may be conducted in a mixing apparatus; but, in practice, it is found preferable to effect it with a rolling mill, operating as follows:

The nitro-cellulose is introduced in the plastic state, and moistened with a solution of camphor in alcohol (40 to 50 parts of camphor in 50 to 70 of alcohol for 100 of nitro-cellulose) as it is practiced in celluloid factories.

This plastic mass of nitro-cellulose is placed in a rolling mill, the cylinders of which are slightly heated at the same time as the caseinate, prepared as above; then the whole mass is worked by the cylinders until the mixture of the two

is perfectly homogeneous, and the final mass is sufficiently hard to be drawn out in leaves in the same way as practiced for pure celluloid.

These leaves are placed in hydraulic presses, where they are compressed, first hot, then cold, and the block thus formed is afterwards cut into leaves of the thickness desired. These leaves are dried in an apparatus in the same way as ordinary celluloid. The product resembles celluloid, and has all its properties. At 90° to 100° C. (194° to 212° F.), it becomes quite plastic, and is easily molded. It may be sawed, filed, turned, and carved without difficulty, and takes on a superb polish. It burns less readily than celluloid, and its combustibility diminishes in proportion as the percentage of caseinate increases; finally, the cost price is less than that of celluloid, and by using a large proportion of caseinate, products may be manufactured at an extremely low cost.