Alternatives to Conventional Food Processing
Chapter 5: Membrane Separations in Food Processing
Published:16 Dec 2010
The continuous search for innovative food processing methods has led to numerous breakthroughs in membrane technology. This chapter covers the most basic concepts of membrane technology such as membrane materials, module configurations, and operation up to the most complex concepts involved in four pressure-driven membrane processes namely MF, UF, NF and RO.
One formidable obstacle toward wide acceptance of membrane technology is the problem on concentration polarization and membrane fouling. This chapter describes both and discusses their different mechanisms and the conditions which cause each mechanism. An extensive discussion on the state-of-the-art techniques to enhance membrane process performance is also presented. This includes optimization of operational conditions, pre-treatment of feeds, modification of membrane modules, flow manipulation and application of external body forces such as ultrasound and electric field. Different techniques and approaches in membrane cleaning are also discussed.
The chapter also details the technology's potential applications in the food industry such as in the processing of milk, beer, wine, juice, sugar, soy products, and other food products. It presents a comparison of the technological and economic advantages and disadvantages of membrane processes to that of traditional food processing methods. Some of its better known advantages are the production of food which has better technological and nutritional functionalities, efficient use of material and resources, and reduced negative impacts to the environment.
With the numerous developments and studies done and still being done on the system, one can only look forward for more widespread adaptation of membrane processes in the industry.