July 2017 Issue of Wines & Vines

Membrane Filtration

Choosing a supplier that fits your needs

by Richard Carey

Clarification of wine has undergone a revolution during the past couple of decades, and membrane technology has led that revolution. The technology of the systems and membranes have significantly improved due to the specificity of what and how grape components are removed from the liquid delivered to the winery. For some wineries, it starts with the juice, but more often it starts with the wine. There is no one system that provides all types of membrane separation.

The following list includes suppliers with widely varying system designs and operating parameters. This information should provide readers with a quick overview of wine industry membrane suppliers. Every winery can make better wine if they have access to membrane technology. If you don’t have the budget to buy one, you can hire a service; some services will ask that you take your wine to them, but most will come to your winery.

Richard Carey, Ph.D., is a wine consultant in Lancaster, Pa., and owner of Tamanend Wine Inc. He wrote a software program to help small wineries keep track of their wine production records and results of laboratory analyses.

VA Filtration has a wide range of different types of crossflow filters that have membranes from microfiltration to nanofiltration. They offer a wide range of services for wine processing. Many pieces of equipment are available for rent, so wineries can see if the equipment meets their needs for processing and quality considerations.

Gusmer Enterprises is the North American distributor of Bucher Vaslin Crossflow filters. (See the Bucher Vaslin entry)

Tamanend Wine Services provides onsite services on the East Coast for crossflow filtration, reverse osmosis and Velcorin treatment.

Oenodia is the only company that offers tartrate stabilization through membrane processing in a system known as electrodialysis. Instead of higher pressure membrane systems providing the force to drive molecules through a semi-permeable membrane, this system uses direct current electricity as the driving force. This is more cost effective than glycol cooling. The equipment is quite expensive to purchase for smaller wineries, so most prefer to employ a service as opposed to purchasing the equipment.

Another important service using a slightly different membrane system is pH adjustment. Using a bipolar membrane and electricity, the current will drive potassium ions through the membrane. At the instant the potassium ion is driven through the membrane, a molecule of water disassociates a H+, which maintains electrical neutrality of the wine.

Tangent Membranes specializes in custom-built crossflow systems. On their standard list of equipment are two unique systems especially for those wanting to try experimental applications. They have created the XF Mini and RO Mini, which are lab bench units that can do small (several liter) size batches in either microfiltration or reverse osmosis filtration levels.

The RO10 standard unit comes in two- to eight-cartridge elements. They can be manual or automated and can have either stainless steel or fiberglass housings.

Some of their custom-built systems for their customers include a large tubular high solids ultrafilter for wine clarification, a fully automatic 120 m2 reverse osmosis system as well as lab-scale carbon and resin-testing devices.

Koch Membrane systems has a wide variety of filtration solutions for the wine industry, all of which use various forms of crossflow filtration, from micro-filtration to reverse osmosis and everything in between. If your business is in areas where wastewater recovery or reclamation of other waste streams is important or necessary, they have systems that can handle the range of input streams, retentate concentration and purity of the filtrate to handle just about any issue in the wine industry.

Their flagship is the WineFilter system. It can be supplied in manual or automated versions that start at filtrate volumes of 10-20 hL per hour and can be built to handle outputs of more than 230 hL per hour.

They also offer custom-built systems.


The VLS crossflow system distributed by Scott Laboratories is a modular design. You can buy the system with cartridges and then add additional element cartridge loops as are needed up to nine cartridges. Each element is the typical 10 m2 of most suppliers. The nominal flow rates range from 1,135 liters per hour for the three cartridge unit to 3,406 liters per hour for the nine-cartridge unit. There is a feed pump with a pre-filter to protect the membranes from fouling with large particles. A digital flow meter and pressure sensor monitor inlet and outlet pressures.

The programmable logic controller operates the basic parameters including flow rate, amount to filter and start/stop time.

Options include a turbidity meter and an automatic cleaning option that controls the parameters for cleaning in place (CIP). This includes peristaltic pumps for measuring in the CIP materials and a temperature probe to assure the system does not overheat these materials.
scottlab.com (U.S.),
scottlabsltd.com (Canada)

Winesecrets’ primary business is reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration services for the wine industry, primarily on the West Coast. They also have a technical arrangement with GE Water and Process Technologies. They use GE membranes in their systems and will build systems for wineries using those membranes. Their reverse osmosis services include VA removal, Brett removal, alcohol adjustment and fixing stuck fermentations.

Ultrafiltration (UF) is another crossflow filtration service provided. This is an “old” new technology. With this filtration technique, a careful crossflow treatment can balance the negative impact of the removal of too many of a wine’s critical components while removing compounds imparting a negative impact on the wine. UF is used as a molecular sieve, separating certain ranges of molecules.

Winesecrets offers a test track system where a small amount of wine can be sent for a trial, and the wine you get back can be analyzed organoleptically to assure that the desired results will come to fruition once the full-scale treatment is done. It can also save wineries a costly expense if the trial does not meet their needs.

Della Toffola USA offers micro, ultra and reverse osmosis filtration systems. They are the only U.S. supplier of the unique Ceramic Membrane Crossflow Filtration system. Ceramic membranes come with a 10-year warranty, two or three times longer than organic membranes. They can be cleaned more powerfully and stored dry, eliminating the need for specialty chemicals and storage solutions. This toughness allows the crossflow filters to work effectively on a wider range of turbidity and products. DT crossflows are available with different porosity levels and in capacities from 200 to 7,000 gallons per hour. The new Della Toffola Omnia, the most advanced of their range of crossflow filters, is suitable for filtering both lees and wine (or juice), recovering as much product as possible.

DT Sepratech also offers reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration and nano-filters in spiral wound organic membranes for a wide variety of applications.

Bucher Vaslin has a wide range of crossflow filter systems for the diverse needs of a winery production system. Their smaller sized systems—comprising the FX 2 to FX 10 models–have from two to 10 filter modules that provide a filtrate flux of up to 10 hL per hour per module. The next range of systems includes the FX 100 to FX 300. These systems take the FX 10 system and package them into multiple modules connected to one control system, providing systems up to 100 m2 of membrane area. The same production should be expected from each module as on the smaller system.

For complex operations, one might want to consider the Flavy FX Tandem. In this system the winery can have multiple modules configured for different wine types or conditions. For example, a wine with heavier solid content can be processed on one module with a relatively high flow rate until the retentate portion is concentrated to low solids level. At that point the wine can be transferred to a high solids module, and the low solids module can move to the next wine, all controlled by one central process system. In this type of system, each wine can be managed as a whole, recovering the maximum volume of wine to be combined into one lot.

Bucher Vaslin offers a unique design that combines the FX series crossflow filter with its rotary drum juice lees filter. This arrangement allows a winery to recover more clarified juice to add to a primary fermentation, all without needing to use diatomaceous earth for clarification. These systems have juice throughput from 80 hL to 400 hL of juice in a 20-hour day.

For larger size wineries that generate a large amount of valuable tank bottoms, there is the Flavy Lees Star system. These large-bore crossflow filters have two size ranges. The lower concentration to 15% solids can produce 400-1,600 liters per hour in four different sized models. If you need higher a concentration factor, the next model will concentrate to 45% solids. These four models can produce 160-1,000 liters per hour.

Bucher Vaslin also produces two reverse osmosis (RO) systems specifically designed for juice concentration. Their units will remove 200-1,200 liters per hour of water from juices with 10% to 11% potential alcohol in a system running at about 70 bar. The second system is specifically designed to remove volatile phenolic compounds. Their systems have removed up to 69% of volatile compounds from some wines, all below the threshold of organoleptic detection.

ATP Group is the distributor for the Padovan line of crossflow filter products. The main product is their Nitor filter that ranges in size from a base unit of 160 square meters and can grow to a 400 m2 unit. They are all equipped with programmable logic controllers for easy process control. A unique feature of the Padovan line is an integrity test cycle that provides real-time integrity testing of the system and helps to prevent fouling of the membrane.

The Nitor system has its own clean-in-place (CIP) system and control on board. The operator connects the clean water supply and assures the chemicals are in place, and then the system will regulate the process temperatures and step through the CIP process sequences to assure a clean system for the next batch.

For product protection, the Nitor has an inert gas system that saturates gas into the headspace of the onboard tanks or inline during the filtration. It also has options for sparkling wine processing, an automated double pre-filter, a turbidity meter to control output clarity and membrane integrity, and an additive dosing pump at the outlet.

ATP Group also offers an innovative high-solids version of crossflow filtration from Padovan called Dynamos. This innovation encompasses spinning discs in the filtration chamber. The spinning discs assure a clean surface for the wine to pass the filter surface, providing a filtration rate of 25 to 100 liters per hour per square meter for as long as 72 hours between cleaning cycles. The Dynamos can filter all types of juice lees in addition to wine lees, meaning greater product recovery from the very first step of your winemaking process. The Dynamos system does not reduce red wine color intensity in the filtration process. Sizes range from 1 m2 to 80 m2.

ATP Group also offers on site services for crossflow filtration.

Euro-Machines distributes Romfil Crossflow Filters. Their system starts with a two-cartridge 20 m2 membrane with an output of 850 liters per hour and steps up to 160 m2 and an output of up to 20,000 liters per hour. Each system uses programmable logic controllers with convenient touchscreen controls. All systems have on-screen visual testing of the systems’ valves and sensors. Cleaning and process steps can be controlled step by step to train new users in the operation of the system. Each sized system has low energy input pumps to minimize temperature rise in the filtered products.

Smaller systems have manual clean, while larger systems have automated clean-in-place options. Models RCF 8 and larger have both manual and pneumatic switching valves to fewer membrane cartridges so efficient processing of smaller lots can be filtered, especially on the final steps of larger lots to gain the greatest throughput and highest yield.

All systems have lockable wheels that provide easy transport to the site of filtration. Additional options on their systems include turbidity guard for filtrate protections, forklift channels for system movement, gaskets and seals for pumps and modules.

Winetech provides many services, primarily on the West Coast. From a membrane standpoint, they provide crossflow filtration and reverse osmosis (RO) services. While they will come to your facility, Winetech has specific requirements (available on their website) for each of the products they will remove through RO.





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