Food and Bioprocess Technology

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 913–925 | Cite as

Separation of Sucrose and Reducing Sugar in Cane Molasses by Nanofiltration

  • Jianquan Luo
  • Shiwei Guo
  • Yuanyuan Wu
  • Yinhua Wan
Original Paper


Recovery of sugars from cane molasses is a promising approach to increase the added value of molasses and reduce its environmental pollution. In this work, for the first time, nanofiltration (NF) was used for the separation of sucrose and reducing sugar in cane molasses by a cascade diafiltration-concentration process. The retention difference between sucrose and reducing sugar by all the tested NF membranes was not distinct at 25 °C, while due to the thermal-induced pore size change and enhanced solute diffusivity, the NF retention behavior changed significantly at 60 °C, and the DL membrane with a sucrose retention of 96% and a reducing sugar retention 5% was selected for the process optimization and modeling. High temperature (55–60 °C), low permeate flux (below 15 Lm−2 h−1), and high sugar concentration resulted in a low retention of reducing sugar due to the dominant diffusive mass transfer, which was desirable for the molasses separation by NF. Mathematical modeling could well predict the diafiltration and concentration processes if using right sugar retention data. The deviations between prediction lines and experimental data in the cross-flow filtration of real solution were mainly caused by the permeate flux variation rather than membrane fouling. After diafiltration, the ratio of sucrose in total molasses sugar increased from 76.1 to 87.9%, while in the permeate of the second concentration step, the ratio of sucrose was only 2.4%. Thus, the retentate of diafiltration could be directly used for sucrose crystallization to avoid the accumulation of reducing sugar and salts, and the permeate of the second concentration step could be concentrated by NF270 at room temperature to produce syrup drinking.


Diafiltration Membrane filtration Sugar recovery Molasses purification Modeling 



The authors thank the Development Center of Water Treatment Technology, Hangzhou, for kindly providing membrane samples used in this study.

Funding Information

The authors thank the Key Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KFZD-SW-211-3) for the financial supports and. This work was supported by the “100 Talents Program” and Youth Innovation Promotion Association (2017069) of Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Biochemical Engineering, Institute of Process EngineeringUniversity of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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