Separation and clarification can be done at the same time in one centrifuge. Particles, which are more dense than the continuous milk phase, are thrown back to the perimeter. The solids that collect in the centrifuge consist of dirt, epithelial cells, leucocytes, corpuscles, bacteria sediment and sludge. The amount of solids that collect will vary, however, it must be removed from the centrifuge.

More modern centrifuges are self-cleaning allowing a continuous separation/clarification process. This type of centrifuge consists of a specially constructed bowl with peripheral discharge slots. These slots are kept closed under pressure. With a momentary release of pressure, for about 0.15 s, the contents of sediment space are evacuated. This can mean anywhere from 8 to 25 L are ejected at intervals of 60 min. For one dairy, self-cleaning translated to a loss of 50 L/hr of milk.

The following image is a schematic of both a clarifier and a separator.

Diagram of Clarification and Separation