Membrane filtration plants are often used in the food and dairy industry to separate or concentrate substances without thermal stress. Until now, cleaning-in-place (CIP) operations for this equipment was energy- and water-intensive, requiring three or four individual cleaning steps with different chemical cleaning agents to be pumped and circulated throughout the equipment for a specified amount of time before rinsing it out with water. Now, water and power consumption can be significantly reduced, thanks to two digital tools — Smart Filtration CIP and Smart Filtration Flush — developed by GEA AG (Düsseldorf, Germany; www.gea.com).
With Smart Filtration Flush, sensors constantly measure the permeate quality of the water during the flushing process, and stop the process as soon as the necessary hygienic level is reached, thereby reducing the amount of water used, as well as the amount of wastewater generated. Depending on the type and size of the plant and the water properties, operators can reduce their freshwater requirements by up to 50%, the company says.
“A typical dairy-whey protein concentration process needs two to four filtration plants connected in a series. This setup can require more than 100,000 L of water, per cleaning cycle,” explains Nils Mørk, R&D Engineer for membrane filtration at GEA. “Today, we know from plant tests that we can save well up to 50,000 L of water per cleaning in such large plants and 500 to 700 L per CIP in small productions.”