Design of Membrane Cascades for Fractionation of Agro-Materials at Elevated Concentrations

Membrane process is an attractive method to separate food-base materials due to its mild processing condition and high selectivity. One way to improve the performance a membrane process is to use a cascaded design (figure 1); the outlet streams from the feed stage are further processed in later stages with recycling some of the streams back to the feed stage. This design is reported to successfully improved the purification of sugars and oligosaccharides [1–3] and also protein [4]. Besides purifying a certain component of interest from a mixture, it is also challenging to fractionate a native mixture into more than 2 components simultaneously; the mixture possibly have more than 1 component of interest with different functionalities. This project utilizes the membrane cascade design to produce multiple fractions simultaneously. In this project, both experiment and simulation are investigated. A model considering the mass transfer phenomena is used for prediction, optimizing and designing a better system.

So far, the membrane processes are performed under a diluted condition. Many problems appear at the system with high concentration, mostly related to high viscosity and non-ideal behavior of the components; modeling the system in such condition becomes more complicated. This study also investigates that aspect and try to find a good design to overcome such problem.


[1]N. V. Patil, X. Feng, J.J.W. Sewalt, R.M. Boom, A.E.M. Janssen, Separation of an inulin mixture using cascaded nanofiltration, Sep. Purif. Technol. 146 (2015) 261–267. doi:10.1016/j.seppur.2015.03.061.

[2]N. V. Patil, T. Schotel, C. V. Rodriguez Gomez, V. Aguirre Montesdeoca, J.J. Sewalt, A.E. Janssen, R.M. Boom, Continuous purification of galacto-oligosaccharide mixtures by using cascaded membrane filtration, J. Chem. Technol. Biotechnol. 91 (2016) 1478–1484. doi:10.1002/jctb.4746.

[3]V. Aguirre Montesdeoca, A. Van der Padt, R.M. Boom, A.E.M. Janssen, Modelling of membrane cascades for the purification of oligosaccharides, J. Memb. Sci. 520 (2016) 712–722. doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2016.08.031.

[4]N. V. Patil, A.E.M. Janssen, R.M. Boom, Separation of whey proteins using cascaded ultrafiltration, Sep. Sci. Technol. 49 (2014) 140620110053007. doi:10.1080/01496395.2014.927488.