Separation of Sucrose and Reducing Sugar in Cane Molasses by Nanofiltration
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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.
KeywordsDiafiltration 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.
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