Food & Beverage Industry – How to Specify Industrial Water Filtration Equipment in the Food Industry

Water filtration applications in a Food and Beverage facility

In a typical Food and Beverage facility there are many different water and process applications, each demanding its own specific level of water purity. The presence, flows and purity of each of these streams is driven by the Food and Beverage plant design, e.g. canning, dry-goods, soft-drink, brewery.

These can include:

  • Pre-treatment of well, surface or city water
  • Boiler water treatment
  • Condensate treatment
  • Process water treatment
  • Cleaning and sterilization service water
  • Hygiene Services
  • Waste water disposal.

Regardless of the application, there is a good chance that some type of industrial water filtration will be required in order for the Food and Beverage application to operate at its peak efficiency.  

Defining the Types of Water Filtration Systems

Water filtration options can be divided into two major categories, based upon the filtering media used

  • granular and
  • membrane.

Granular water filtration has been used for many decades in the Food and Beverage Industry, and will be familiar to most. Examples of granular media filtration include sand filters; activated carbon filters for taste, odor, and chlorine removal; anthracite filters; and fine garnet filters.

These types of filters can remove suspended particles down to about 10 microns in diameter (1 micron = 10-6 meters). With the use of certain coagulant or flocculation polymers fed prior to these filters (fed as filter aids), some success has been seen in the removal of particles down to almost 1 micron.

The spacing between the discrete filtering media particles serves as the pores. Suspended solids trapped out by these filters will be collected on top of the filtration media bed, or within the pores.

Membrane water filtration uses membranes to remove suspended particles. Unlike granular filters, the membranes are designed with pores and are capable of removing much smaller particles. The ultimate membrane filtration is reverse osmosis (RO), where dissolved solids (metal ions) can be removed. This is not really a filtration mechanism in the truest sense of the words, as the semi-permeable membranes used in RO do not have pores. It is more properly thought of as a demineralization mechanism.

Membrane water filtration is best characterized by the size range of the filterable particles, as follows:

  1. Microfiltration (MF) can include woven or wound depth-type cartridge filters, or true membrane filters. Can remove particles from about 0.1 micron to over 1 micron.
  2. Ultrafiltration (UF) can remove particles from below 0.01 microns to over 0.1 microns. Can remove some large molecular weight organic dissolved material.
  3. Nanofiltration (NF) can remove particles from below 0.001 microns to 0.01 microns. Can remove smaller molecular weight organics.
  4. RO can remove particles from 0.0001 microns to 0.001 microns. Can also remove DISSOLVED IONIC SOLIDS.

Sanitary Industrial Filters For Advanced Compressed Air and Gas Filtration

The newest name in advanced microfiltration technology for industrial compressed air and gas applications is the availability of Sanitary Industrial Filters. These filters offer the performance of standard, widely available coalescing filters, pre-filters, and activated carbon filters, but are manufactured with stainless steel housings and are typically equipped with sanitary inlet and discharge connections. Sanitary Industrial Filters offer a complete filtration solution to users with enhanced filtration requirements, incorporating housings specially outfitted for sanitary applications. Whether combined with a sterile filter for a staged filtration model to achieve the highest level of compressed air or gas purification, or used in tandem with other Sanitary Industrial Filters, these filters make available enhanced housing integrity that delivers the highest grade of compressed air filtration possible for specialized installations with demanding performance requirements.

Typically, this level of compressed air filtration is required by those industries with the highest purity requirements, such as dairy, food processing, beverage, medical, pharmaceutical, electronics, semiconductor, asceptic packaging, and chemical processing. Other applications served by sanitary industrial filters include any industry where sensitive measurement or pneumatic controls are employed.

Just a few of the highlighted benefits provided by a Sanitary Industrial filtration installation include:

  • Employment of high-quality, non-corrosive stainless steel housings for industrial applications that ensures the oxidation commonly found in aluminum housing filters will no longer be a problem.
  • Cleanability is enhanced with stainless steel housings, thereby extending the service life for all installed filtersno matter the filtration model employed.
  • Simplification of filter maintenance during element replacement.
  • Sanitary industrial filters offer filtration efficiencies of up to 99.99998% at 0.01 microns in coalescing filters, depending on the grade of the installed element.

End-user site requirements vary greatly from installation to installation. Some users have need for filters with sanitary connections, while others require NPT or even stub-end connections for welded installations. Still others have need for a combination of these connections. When considering the options available for Sanitary Industrial Filters, it’s critical to employ the unit that offers latitude with respect to customized product integration and installation. Further to physical installation flexibility, process engineers should be afforded the opportunity to customize a staged filtration model in an al la carte fashion to effectively and precisely address their specific needs. In other words, end-user system designs should have the option of employing any number of filter combinations; combinations that include employing any of the full-range of industrial filtration elements available. Specifically, the end-user should be able to select and combine any of all grades of coalescers, activated charcoal, dust filter, and vacuum filter elements for a staged filtration model that serves the requirements specific to their needs. These specialized installations oftentimes require greater flexibility than off-the-shelf aluminum housing filters can provide.

Being a recent innovation, the competitive landscape is limited, but the availability of Sanitary Industrial Filters and their complete range of element types and applications they serve are not. Sanitary Industrial Filters are, indeed, available with not just a full range of element grades and types, but also a variety of inlet/discharge sizes and types, as well as various operating pressure specifications, including high pressures units capable of up to 6,000 psi.