GEA Filtration is experienced in processing a wide range of products on a commercial basis and by testing products at the plant site or in our pilot plant testing facility.

Membrane filtration technology applied to the production of ethanol from cellulosic materials

The production of fuel grade ethanol has exploded in recent years due to the push to get away from the reliance on fossil fuels such as gasoline. Until just recently, the primary source for the majority of ethanol has been corn. However, ethanol derived from cheaper and more renewable sources such as cellulosic biomass like corn stover, switchgrass, cereal straws and wood chips has emerged as a major factor in this industry.
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Environmental applications

Chemical Industry and Process Waste Water Membrane filtration can play an integral role in processing difficult wastewater streams to reduce BOD, COD, and hydraulic loadings as well as producing a clean water source that can potentially be re-used within the plant.

Typical environmental applications are:

  • Dairy and food plant waste streams
  • Potato flume water
  • Polishing of evaporator condensate
  • Recovery and re-use of spent cleaning solutions

Many chemical processes also utilize membrane filtration for:

  • De-salting, diafiltration and purification of dyes, pigments and optical brighteners
  • Clean-up of rinse and washwater streams
  • Concentration and de-watering of minerals such as Kaolin Clay, titanium dioxide and calcium carbonate

Chemical Industry Applications

Pigment Production/Recovery
Diafiltration is used to concentrate pigments
Industrial/Fish/Cook Gelatin
See Gelatin UF. Membrane filtration can be used as a cost-effective and product-improving alternative to evaporation as a means to concentrate industrial gelatin. Fish gelatin may be filtered by MF then concentrated by UF. MF used for clarification of cook gelatin. Putting a filtration plant at the beginning of a process line increases the efficiency of all down-stream systems. After gelatin concentration, filtration may be used to recover proteins and reduce BOD levels in the resulting permeate.
Metals Recovery
See precious metals recovery NF, metal fine purification
Pharmaceutical Intermediates Industrial Salts Caustic Clarification
By separating suspended materials, used caustic may be clarified and used again and again, saving on cleaning and disposal costs.
Paper Additives Process Water Reclamation
There are not many processes, chemical, industrial, food, pharmaceutical, or otherwise that do not include water as a key component. In just about all of these processes membrane filtration (Reverse Osmosis specifically) can be implemented to bring used, contaminated water back to a state of purity so that it can be reused indefinitely. Often products separated from the used water are saleable in their new concentrated form. Renewing process water this way does not only produce new saleable products and save on discharge costs but it is also good for the environment, reducing water consumption and diminishing the load for treatment plants.
Polymer Production Specialty Chemicals Kaolin Clay / Bentonite Clay
There are different kinds of Kaolin clay, organized by particle size. MF and UF are used to accomplish the following: concentrate the clay before drying to reduce costs and increase throughput; purify the clay; recover the clay from low concentrations. These same processes have been applied to Bentonite clay.
Titanium Dioxide
Titanium Dioxide is being used in a solar-powered process to eliminate toxic organic compounds from groundwater. MF is highly effective to recover the Titanium Dioxide.
Kraft Black Liquor
In the process of papermaking (kraft process), lignin is an impurity that decreases the strength of paper. Using membrane filtration to remove the lignin from black liquor (byproduct of the kraft/pulping process), the lignin may be used for purposes such as extending adhesives used in the making of plywood (resin) or as a base for vanilla flavoring (vanillin).
Spent Sulphite Liquor
Putting spent sulphite liquor through ultrafiltration yields two saleable products: lignin for vanillin production and resin manufacture, and wood sugars suitable for use in animal feed.
Vanillin is extracted from lignin, which comes from spent sulphite liquor (SSL). Without separating the lignin from all of the accompanying wood sugars, the vanillin process is rather inefficient and costly. With ultrafiltration of the SSL, the vanillin processes are greatly improved and the byproduct can be sold as animal feed due to its high sugar content.
Paper/Textile Dyes
See Printer Dye Nanofiltration. Use nanofiltration to remove sodium acetate from printer dye. Reducing salts in a dye solution.

Waste Water Applications

Wheat Starch
When a wheat starch waste stream is put through a membrane filtration system, water can be reused and concentrated starch can be used to produce ethanol.
Microfiltration makes it possible to remove pulp and other solids from tomato flume water so that the water can be reused. Caustic from tomato peeling processes can also be recovered and reused.
Dairy Plant
All dairy plant waste water including sanitary, cooling, and industrial streams may all be filtered to reduce overall waste output. Water can be reused and some of the extracted waste can even be used as cattle feed.
Rendering Plant
Membrane filtration has been successfully used to reduce volume on meat byproducts for the purpose of economic shipping. Reverse osmosis of rendering plant waste water can achieve excellent quality for reuse.
Lime Process
Protein and reusable water can be filtered out of lime process waste water.
Corn Starch
Microfiltration can be used to concentrate streams of corn starch slurry. Reusable water is a byproduct.
Potato Starch Recovery
Much water goes into and comes out of processing potatoes. Besides clarifying the waste water for reuse, RO can concentrate the high protein content and greatly reduce BOD levels before discharge. Operating at high temperatures avoids the coagulation of potato starch which otherwise causes clogging of the membranes.
Stick Water Recovery
Stick water from beef, fish and chicken can be filtered to recover protein and reduce BOD levels. The permeate from beef stick water filtration has been used as beef flavoring. Chicken stick water has been filtered and used in pet food production.
Egg Process Waste Stream
See Egg Plant Process Streams, Egg Waste Water UF. UF used to concentrate inedible egg waste in order to reduce drying costs and effluent BOD levels. 100-fold concentration is possible. Protein recovered.
Metals Recovery
See propylene glycol purification, catalytic converter wash water, cerium acetate, wood preservative ww.
CIP Chemicals Reclaim
Membrane cleaning and maintenance requires running certain chemicals through the membranes on a regular basis.
Evaporator Condensate Recovery
Evaporator condensate is often contaminated by organic acids. The contamination level is described as COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand). By means of reverse osmosis, condensate water can be reused in plant operation or can achieve a COD level appropriate for disposal.
Oily Water Recovery
Grapefruit oil.
Specialty Chemicals Recovery Syrup/Sweetener Recovery
Corn syrup, rice syrup, soda syrup, etc. Using RO and NF, various syrups and sweeteners can be recovered from waste streams, concentrated and clarified. The same processes also yield other usable byproducts and reduce COD/BOD levels.
Pasta Starch Recovery
Membrane filtration can be used to concentrate pasta starch from waste streams, reduce the BOD level of the stream, and clarify water for reuse.

Cross-flow membrane filtration technology is quickly gaining global acceptance as an important manufacturing step in many process industries worldwide. The ability to produce very specific separations / purifications at low or ambient temperatures often make membrane filtration a much more cost-effective technology than more conventional methods such as rotary vacuum filtration or filter presses.

Membrane filtration is a pressure driven technology with pore sizes ranging from 100 molecular weight to 5 microns. The technologies included in membrane filtration are: Reverse Osmosis RO, Nanofiltration NF, Ultrafiltration UF, and Microfiltration MF.

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