Industrial process applications include applications upstream and downstream fermentation, in bioethanol production, biodiesel, biodegradable plastics, enzyme reactions.
Makers of second generation cellulosic ethanol are taking waste biomass (typically from corn) and using enzymes and acid/alkali to extract fermentable material. Cellulose is converted to sugars, fermented to produce alcohol. During the process membranes are used to improve yield, reduce waste and energy costs.
Some processes use acid/alkali and nanofiltration (NF) can be used to recover and concentrate some of the useful sugars like hemi-cellulose, which also is used in the fermentation process. Reverse osmosis (RO) is used for recovery of high quality water for reuse. Membrane filtration is also used for making organic acids as the base material for biodegradable plastic.
Bioplastic, biopolymers, biocosmetics as well as biodiesel are innovative productions area where membrane technology is now playing an important role.