Sustainable solutions in beer breweries through membrane filtration

6 October 2020

Sustainable solutions in beer breweries through membrane filtration

Increasing sustainability in breweries is at your footsteps. Hollow fiber microfiltration membranes provide a sustainable alternative to traditional use of diatomaceous earth for beer filtration. And to reduce the brewery’s water footprint, hollow fiber nanofiltration enables robust treatment of incoming water, recycling of process water and recovery of CIP. Read more about how NX Filtration can support in preparing your brewery for a sustainable future.

History of beer filtration

Although the history of beer brewing is over 6000 years old, the filtration of beers to remove yeast and provide a more consistent quality started only around 1880. Various filtration methods and materials were developed, including paper, cotton and asbestos. Since the 1930s, filtration with diatomaceous earth (DE), also known as Kieselguhr, has been used. In the 2000s, an alternative for DE filtration was developed and introduced: hollow fiber membrane microfiltration. In this process the matured beer is filtered through microfiltration membranes, in a so-called cross-flow process, in which remaining yeast, proteins and other fine solids are eliminated. The original developers of this membrane filtration technology have now grouped together in NX Filtration, where they have developed a next generation breakthrough membrane, further emphasizing the quality, sustainability and operational benefits of beer membrane filtration.

Advantages of hollow fiber membrane beer filtration

Beer membrane microfiltration is rapidly gaining momentum as the preferred process, as this technique shows several important advantages over DE filtration. Advantages of membrane-based microfiltration include:

  1. Constant high quality: higher yeast cell retention, improved taste stability (no uptake of elements out of the DE) and prolonged shelf life;
  2. Sustainability: c. 30% lower energy use, c. 20% CO2 footprint reduction, c. 35% lower water consumption and c. 50% reduction in solid waste;
  3. Operation: ease-of-use, continuous operation, reduced opex (direct and indirect costs).

NX Filtration is amongst the few global suppliers of hollow fiber beer filtration membranes globally. With its team of experts they are constantly working on further performance optimizations and innovations on these membranes. In addition, NX Filtration is the only supplier of beer filtration membranes that is independent, providing an open platform for new installations and replacement modules that is not linked to own proprietary systems.

The base material for NX Filtration’s microfiltration membranes is hydrophilic polyethersulfone (PES), which has an excellent chemical stability for the use in processes that require durable and robust materials. The membrane module is suited for high temperature cleaning and sanitation and meets generally accepted food and beverage best practices.

NX Filtration’s offering of hollow fiber micro- and nanofiltration membranes for breweries


Direct nanofiltration enabling water related sustainability goals at breweries

In addition to providing a sustainable and high quality process for beer filtration, NX Filtration also offers a worldwide unique direct nanofiltration (dNF) concept that can be applied in many other processes in the brewing industry offering various benefits around reduced water footprint, quality and cost.

Direct nanofiltration is an innovative and proprietary technology that applies a layer-by-layer coating, depositing multiple nano-scale layers on a supporting membrane, typically using a more porous ultrafiltration membrane as the support structure. This method enables very precise and controlled rejection and flux properties of the membrane.

Applying direct nanofiltration, the incoming water streams in the brewery can be optimally tailored for the production of high quality beer. This includes the removal of unwanted organics, micropollutants, color, viruses and bacteria, hardness, iron and  heavy metals in a robust one-step process.

In addition, wastewater from e.g. cleaning (CIP) and utilities can be treated efficiently and recycled. Breweries are a major consumer of water: for every liter of beer that is being produced, breweries consume around three liters of water, of which approximately two liters are being used as process water for cleaning and utilities. NX Filtration’s direct nanofiltration is well positioned to contribute to breweries’ initiatives around reduction of water usage. Finally, various raw materials (such as CIP chemicals) can be reclaimed since the direct nanofiltration membranes are chemically stable, enabling performance even at high caustic soda (NaOH) concentrations (up to 4% v/v). This means that NaOH can be recycled bringing not only water savings but also exceptional cost savings.

Please contact NX Filtration to support in preparing your brewery for a sustainable future!