Membrane solutions for sugar and distillery

membrane solutions for sugar

Membrane solutions for sugar and distillery

Sugar processing is one of the most complex and energy-consuming practices in the food industry. It requires various separation processes at different points.

Ultrafiltration, Nanofiltration, Reverse Osmosis, and Electrodialysis are commonly used for processing sugar and treatment of effluent generated during the process. These membrane processes are used at different steps in order to save water, and chemicals and get more refined sugar with better quality. 

In this article, we shall take a closer look at the use of membranes in specific steps during sugar processing.

Brine recovery

Brine recovery is an essential aspect of sugar refining. This step is carried out after ion exchange resin which refines the sugar. However, it contaminates the brine used in the regeneration of the resin column with divalent ions and organic matter (color impurities). The brine recovery system consists of specially designed molecular weight cut-off membranes that remove these contaminants, colorants, and other impurities from brine solution which is recycled back in the process. 

The system used at Permionics is capable of 95% brine recovery as it is built with advanced proprietary membranes and pre-treatment.

Condensate polishing

The condensate from sugar Industries & distilleries is usually high in BOD, inorganic components, and COD. Condensate polishing is a must-have process to remove these contaminants. Ultrafiltration and Reverse Osmosis are the two membrane solutions used to carry this out after a conventional effluent treatment plants. After the membrane separation, the water recovered is further sent for recycling in different utilities, as well as in molasses dilution. 

Permionics has developed an advanced low fouling RO system along with ultra-fine filters that can take care of this entire process and enable more than 90% water recovery.

Rinse water recovery

The sugar refining process requires the use of a lot of water. Water that’s specifically used to wash the column can be recovered through Rinse Water Recovery. This process employs the use of HPA series low fouling membranes. The recovered water is chemically clean and has very low (if at all) bio-burden.

Spray pond wastewater recycling

Contaminated spray pond water can be recycled for other purposes through a multi-stage Reverse Osmosis system. Silica removal, water softening, and Ultra-filtration are also employed in this process as prior to the RO system. 

Permionics has developed future-first technologies to recover 95% of the spray pond wastewater.  The Final 5% reject goes to the evaporator to make the whole process zero liquid discharge (ZLD). 


Sugar and distillery have widespread use of membrane solutions to run operations smoothly and to reduce operational costs. The innovations at Permionics have helped save time, money, and effort by enabling maximum recovery and minimal wastage.

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