According to a new technical market research report, Membrane Technology for Food and Beverage Processing (MST030B) from BCC Research, membrane sales for food and beverage processors will reach $185 million in 2006. At an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of about 4.6% through 2011, the market should reach the $230 million mark.
Membrane pioneers in the dairy processing sector have the largest installed capacity and still buy the greatest share of membrane products. Membrane equipment for this sector has become integral to manufacturing milk, cheese and whey proteins. Despite the market’s age, there are still emerging, and potential large growth applications in protein isolation and other separations.
An important trend for membranes in food and beverage manufacture relates to wastewater. As discharge regulations stiffen and sewage surcharges escalate, the industry is being forced to look for cost-effective new treatment technology, where it formerly relied on municipal treatment plants. This option is increasingly less available because of increasing pressure to comply with discharge rulings and fewer additions of treatment capacity. Wastewater treatment using membranes also may be applied to recover process materials that would otherwise be lost.
Manufacturers are placing increased emphasis on using membrane methods to replace functions formerly performed by chemical processing. One area of focus is removing or minimizing problems associated with diatomaceous earth (DE) in beverage processing. Substituting membranes for DE in these applications contributes to a more positive environmental impact, protects the health and safety of the labor force, and more efficiently and economically resolves maintenance and disposal issues.
Competitive technologies in food and beverage processing include a variety of media filters and other separation and purification methods including centrifugation, adsorption, evaporation, distillation, pasteurization and ion exchange. In numerous industry processes, these techniques are used as complement to membrane methods. In many instances, this hybrid approach helps manufacturers ensure the quality and safety of products as required by consumers and government agencies.
All types of membrane processes are applicable to food and beverage streams: reverse osmosis (RO); nanofiltration (NF); ultrafiltration (UF); microfiltration (MF); electrodialysis (ED); and lesser-used methods such as pervaporation, perstraction, gas transfer and membrane distillation. Most common membrane materials and configurations are used.