Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Healthy Processed Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378898

Research Project: New Sustainable Processing Technologies to Produce Healthy, Value-Added Foods from Specialty Crops

Location: Healthy Processed Foods Research

Title: The ultimate on ultrafiltration

item McHugh, Tara
item Avena-Bustillos, Roberto

Submitted to: Food Technology
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/19/2020
Publication Date: 8/1/2020
Citation: McHugh, T.H., Avena Bustillos, R.D. 2020. The ultimate on ultrafiltration. Food Technology. 74(8):71-73,87.

Interpretive Summary: Ultrafiltration is a selective separation step used to both concentrate and purify medium to high molecular weight components such as plant and dairy proteins, carbohydrates and enzymes. Common areas of application are whey protein concentration, gelatin deashing and concentration, and clarification of fruit juices. The history and market for this technology was reviewed as well as the science. Applications were discussed as well.

Technical Abstract: Ultrafiltration is a pressure-driven purification process that separates particulate matter from soluble compounds using an ultrafine membrane media. Ultrafiltration is an excellent separation technology for desalination pretreatment, reverse osmosis pretreatment, and wastewater reclamation, as well as for producing potable water. In the dairy industry, ultrafiltration is used for a wide range of applications such as protein standardization of cheese milk, powders, fresh cheese production, protein concentration and decalcification of permeates as well as lactose reduction of milk. Specifically, ultrafiltration allows the smaller lactose, water, mineral, and vitamin molecules to pass through the membrane, while the larger protein and fat molecule (key components for making cheese) are retained and concentrated. Depending on the intended use of ultrafiltration milk product, fat in whole milk may be removed. The key to the design of an ultrafiltration crossflow system is selecting a membrane geometry that suits the physical characteristics of the process fluid. Ultrafiltration crossflow membranes can be provided in tubular, flat sheet, spiral wound, and hollow fiber configurations, each of which provides certain advantages for specific process needs. Membrane materials are usually synthetic polymers, ceramic and stainless steel, depending on processing conditions and durability. In the past decade, fouling (27 %) and modelling (17 %) and wastewater (12 %) were the dominant research topics on ultrafiltration technology and accounted for more than half of the total scientific articles published (4,547 articles) within this specified period. Topics like ultrafiltration membrane fabrication and modification, food processing, and hybrid membrane process have revealed a growing trend in terms of current interest on UF applications. Crossflow membrane ultrafiltration technology is quickly gaining worldwide acceptance as an important manufacturing step in many of the process lines in the food, dairy,pharmaceutical, biotechnological, chemical and starch and sweetener industries. The ability to produce very specific separations at low or ambient temperatures with no phase change can, in many applications, make membrane ultrafiltration a much more cost-effective solution than more conventional methods such as rotary vacuum filtration or filter presses. Ultrafiltration technology also will play an important role against the current COVID-19 pandemic, as it is effective for virus removal in the production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines, and well as for antibiotics recovery.