GEA’s water-saving membrane system for non-alcoholic beer

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GEA is unveiling a new sustainable option for the membrane system for beer dealcoholization at Drinktec 2022.

The GEA AromaPlus membrane dealcoholization plant at Schönbuch Braumanufaktur in Böblingen has been producing a multiple award-winning non-alcoholic wheat beer since May 2018.
The GEA AromaPlus membrane dealcoholization plant at Schönbuch Braumanufaktur in Böblingen has been producing a multiple award-winning non-alcoholic wheat beer since May 2018. - Image: GEA/Mike Henning.

GEA AromaPlus PRO reduces the water consumption for diafiltration during dealcoholization by up to 100%. The alcoholic base produced as a by-product of the filtration process can be used for manufacturing other beverages in the brewery, such as hard seltzer.

GEA AromaPlus uses a filtration technology with special polymer membranes to separate alcohol and water from the other ingredients by means of reverse osmosis; these ingredients are crucial for the aroma, colour and turbidity of the final product. Adding the new PRO technology to the water-saving CO2 blow-out function and the selective membrane which is already implemented in the AromaPlus unit design, GEA saves more than two thirds and up to 100% of the fresh water used for diafiltration.

“Our latest AromaPlus generation combines the trend towards 0.0% beer with the goal of reducing water in production,” says Ralf Scheibner, filtration expert at GEA, under whose leadership the GEA AromaPlus has been further developed. “In fact, a membrane process requires a lot of water to flush out the alcohol. That is an issue for breweries with a limited deoxygenized water availability. Our new PRO solution is an important step for them towards fresh water neutrality in production processes.”

The complete dealcoholization system GEA AromaPlus is mounted on a frame. It comprises the filtration modules and reverse osmosis membranes, pumps for media transfer and system pressure build-up, the entire internal piping, a CIP dosing unit installed next to the system, and the control equipment required for semi-automated operation. - Image: GEA/Mike Henning.

While breweries need less fresh water for the diafiltration step, the permeate leaving the system can be reused as a valuable by-product. Due to its lower volume, it has a higher alcohol content and can therefore serve as a base for alcoholic mixed drinks and newer beverages, such as hard seltzer, or can be reused within the brewery itself.

“The Corona pandemic showed that breweries whose production facilities offered the flexibility to process other beverages coped best with the drop in demand. GEA AromaPlus is a good example of how customers can gear their plants toward high demand dynamics,” says Scheibner. Originally designed for the dealcoholization of beer down to 0.0%, the system can also be used used for other non-alcoholic beverages, such as 0.0% cider.