Energy Savings Through Osmotic Concentration for the Food and Beverage Processing Industry

Porifera's PFO Concentrator System will revolutionize the food and beverage industry by offering superior quality products with less energy and cheaper operating costs.

Porifera, Inc.

Recipient

San Leandro, CA

Recipient Location

9th

Senate District

18th

Assembly District

beenhere

$2,800,685

Amount Spent

closed

Completed

Project Status

Project Result

The project concluded in 2023. In the third and final season of demonstration, Porifera optimized the higher-processing capacity system to achieve greater productivity and energy efficiency. Porifera’s system proved successful in processing the watermelon juice at the juice processing facility for three seasons. Porifera demonstrated its PFO Concentrator to have 24 percent to 94 percent lower GHG emissions than the competing technologies, depending on the operational parameters.

Implementing Porifera’s technology within the food and beverage industry can significantly reduce seasonal electrical and natural gas demand during the harvest and processing season and can lower overall peak demand. This reducing of peak energy demand could improve reliability and reduce costs associated with energy production and transmission, which could improve California’s grid reliability. The energy savings occur primarily in reduced energy needed for processing (that is, steam generation, evaporator use, etc.) and for refrigeration but also come indirectly at the site from reduced well and process water pumping requirements, less energy for wastewater treatment, or reduced reheating in boilers.

Porifera plans to continue sharing the benefits of its concentrator technology through both general marketing collateral as well as targeted information for food and beverage processors. Porifera maintains its presence at and contribute to food and beverage expos and conferences.

View Final Report

The Issue

There is a need for energy-efficient methods to concentrate food and beverage products with high tolerance to processing conditions, that will not degrade product quality. While thermal evaporators are widely used, they are energy intensive and degrade products. Membrane systems have also been used to concentrate dilute food and beverage products, but most of these systems have significant operation limitations caused by fouling of the membrane and pressure limits. These issues have rendered most membrane systems unusable for the majority of food and beverage processing, including concentration of fruits and vegetable juices, and dairy products.

Project Innovation

Porifera demonstrated a commercial-scale system that offers an energy efficient way to create high quality concentrates without using heat or pressure. They built and installed their PFO Concentrator system, using an innovative forward osmosis technology to reduce energy, chemicals, and maintenance required for food and beverage processors. The system was installed for operations at a watermelon processing plant in California, for the duration of three consecutive processing seasons. The team generated and analyzed various juice samples throughout the season and post-season, and made refinements to the system until a third and final configuration demonstrated production of a sellable concentrate that is superior to current quality levels. Porifera also partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study and produce freeze-dry products from the concentrates to demonstrate other applications of the system.

Project Goals

Demonstrate market readiness of the PFO Concentrator by validating the concentration of other food and beverage products.
Advance the abilities of the PFO Concentrator system between multiple watermelon processing seasons of operation.
Demonstrate the freeze-drying of PFO Concentrator products

Project Benefits

This project will help the state achieve its statutory energy goals by demonstrating an innovative technology that can produce juice concentrate and freeze-dried powder products that meet food safety standards, is cheaper, and more energy efficient than current mainstream thermal evaporator systems.

Consumer Appeal

Consumer Appeal

Food and beverage products have improved aromas, flavors, and colors, increasing the variety of natural products available on the market.

Lower Costs

Affordability

The PFO Concentrator has the potential to provide between 50-90 percent cost savings over conventional thermal evaporators by offsetting energy and water use.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The PFO Concentrator reduces CO2 emissions and will improve groundwater and surface water resources due to increased reuse of water.

Key Project Members

Olgica Bakajin, PhD

Olgica Bakajin, PhD

CEO
Jennifer Klare, PhD

Jennifer Klare, PhD

Senior Director of Applications & Operations
Porifera

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