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GEA halves water and power consumption for CIP in membrane filtration in the food industry

20 Mar 2023

GEA reduces water and power consumption during the cleaning of membrane filtration plants by up to 50 percent with two new digital tools. The software duo, GEA Smart Filtration CIP and GEA Smart Filtration Flush, automatically intervene in CIP (cleaning-in-place) processes, pulsing the pumps and flushing the membranes individually and according to real-time water quality.

Smart filtration CIP & Flush cleaning

Up to 50 percent less water for rinsing

Membrane filtration plants separate or concentrate substances without thermal stress. Membrane filtration is primarily used in food manufacturing – including new foods – and in dairy processing. Common product examples include dairy protein and fish collagen isolates. Until now, cleaning 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. 

In contrast, GEA Smart Filtration Flush uses sensors to constantly measure the permeate quality of the water during the flushing process, reducing the freshwater required. Setting blanket rinsing intervals and water quantities in advance are no longer needed as the software stops the process as soon as the necessary hygiene level is reached, and the cleaning agents are discharged. Depending on the type and size of the plant and the water properties, operators can reduce their freshwater requirements by up to 50 percent.

Water-saving CIP optimization, downsized CIP infrastructure

“A typical dairy whey protein concentration process needs two to four filtration plants connected in a series. This set up can require more than 100,000 liters 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 liters of water per cleaning in such large plants and 500 to 700 liters per CIP in small productions.”

Additionally, when less water is fed into the process, this decreases the amount of wastewater which needs to be discharged. “Many manufacturers can only clean their filtration systems successively because the peak flows during flushing of filtration plants often exceed pipeline capacity. That can create a potential safety hazard for staff and cause contamination in the production area. We eliminate this peak water flow problem with Smart Flush because we can significantlyreduce pressure fluctuations in the water supply and reduce the overflow of drain lines.”

Up to 50 percent less energy thanks to pulsating pumps

The second software module, GEA Smart Filtration CIPis a software module that regulates cleaning efficiency. It causes the pumps to operate in a pulsating manner as opposed to running continuously. As a result, the pumps consume up to 50 percent less energy during the CIP process. Traditionally, the best results were achieved by cleaning with high shear forces (e.g., mechanical washing with a strong rinse flow).This approach meant the maximumallowed pressure drop across the membranes was appliedduring the CIP process – which entails much higher energy consumption. GEA Smart Filtration CIP breaks with this inefficient method, without losing efficacy.

The washing machine principle

Tests conducted by GEA on various membrane plants prove that the same level of hygienic cleaning is achieved even if the pump only operates at short intervals – providing the time, temperature and chemical concentration is kept constant. “Our method, now applied to membrane plants, mirrors the basic principles used successfully by washing machines:agitate the clothes followed by intervals of rest,allowing the cleaning agent do its job,” explains Mørk.

Compared to plants with standard pump operation at full load, small production plants with GEA Smart Filtration CIP would save between 5 and 7 kilowatt hours per cleaning. Large filtration plants would require 60 to 100 kilowatt hours less electrical energy per CIP process thanks to this innovation.


Fanny Förster

Phone: 49 211 9136 1504

À propos de GEA

GEA est un des principaux fournisseurs de l'industrie agroalimentaire et d'autres industries, qui sont à l’origine d’un revenu consolidé qui a atteint près de 4,9 Mrd EUR en 2019.

C’est un groupe international spécialisé dans les machines et les installations, ainsi que dans les technologies de procédés et composants. GEA fournit des solutions énergétiques durables, utilisées dans des process de production de pointe pour divers marchés, et offre une gamme complète de services. Le groupe réalise près de 70 % de son revenu dans l'industrie alimentaire et des boissons, un secteur caractérisé par une croissance durable de long terme. Au 31 décembre 2018, la société employait plus de 18 500 personnes dans le monde. GEA est un leader du marché et des technologies dans ses secteurs d'activité. La société est cotée sur l'indice boursier allemand MDAX (G1A, WKN 660 200), sur l'indice STOXX® Europe 600 et sur des indices de durabilité globale MSCI sélectionnés.
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