Wafilin Systems developed and built a membrane system for Döhler to purify and filter their alcohol solutions.

Membrane solution for purifying alcohol solution

Faced with growing demand for their products, Döhler needed a rapid expansion and upgrading of their existing production process. They enlisted Wafilin Systems to meet this challenge. A mission we accomplished: the first part of the project was delivered to their complete satisfaction in just four months, using our SmartFlex technology. The following six months were used to deliver an additional of six SmartFlex systems.

The benefits of the membrane solution

  • Increase of product quality and process efficiency
  • Compact and efficiënt system
  • Boost of output of the final product
  • Improved energy consumption
  • Reduction of waste

The project

The Döhler Group is a major player in manufacturing natural colourings and flavourings and other ingredients for the food and beverage industry. They have developed their own technology that converts waste streams from the fruit and vegetable industry into alcohol. The next step in the process is purifying and filtering this alcohol solution. Wafilin Systems designed and developed a membrane process for this.

The development

The project team first made a copied design of the membrane filtration system already in use at Döhler. This system was marked as ‘skid 0’. However, based on the design, Wafilin Systems estimated that the configuration of skid 0 woudn’t meet the desired product quality and capacity. A pilot study has been set up in order to design a suitable configuration. The pilot study involved onsite testing an screening of a variety of NF and RO membranes. Based on the results, Wafilin Systems selected an alternative membrane for the future process. We also optimised the design of skid 0 and applied the same concept to the construction of the additional six units.

The solution

The selected membrane solution is a combination of Smart Flex NF (Nano Filtration) followed by Smart Flex RO (Reverse Osmosis). Smart Flex systems are smart and flexible membrane systems consisting of standardized membrane configurations. These are components suitable for flexible applications, thus creating a multi-purpose system. This approach enables fast and efficient delivery of a high-quality system tailored precisely to the client’s needs. What is more, thanks to its flexibility, the system is easier to integrate into the existing factory process, as in the situation at Döhler.

The membrane steps result in a colourless and odourless alcohol solution and desalinate the product. The permeate contains the desired concentration of alcohol and is practically free of odour and colour. This clean alcohol solution can be used in alcoholic beverages and mixed drinks.

The result

A variety of simulation tests was conducted during the engineering stage. This led to an optimised membrane filtration design. For instance, the RO plant features different membranes cut-offs that behave differently to different concentration factors. This further boosts the final product quality and process efficiency.

The new membrane plant increases the output of the final product and reduces waste by 50%. Compared to existing systems at Döhler, this membrane system is far more compact and efficient. All processes are finely attuned to one another, to limit energy loss. Because the units are composed at two levels, it takes just half the normal footprint of an conventional membrane skid. Efficient use of surface area increases production.

The partnership

Thanks to the smooth, flexible and close collaboration between Döhler and Wafilin Systems, we completed this three-phase project in record time – just ten months. Both sides contributed to come up with clever process solutions. Wafilin Systems provided all desired support in plant implementation and commissioning.

Döhler also appreciated the collaboration during the entire project.

‘This co-operation has brought us success, thanks in particular to the meticulous engineering,’ notes Jan Michielse, Technisch Manager Cluster Europe at Döhler.

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This membrane filtration systems has achieved an increase of production and reduction of waste.  Interested in what our membrane solutions can mean for you?