All posts by appliedm

Brewing Filtration – DE Filtration V’s Membrane Filtration


Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filtration systems are the traditional, tried and true, filtration systems that have been used around the world with superior results for over 80 years. About 10 years ago, a new filtration technology, membrane filters, became a filtration option, primarily for the brewing industry.

Here are some of the common questions asked today:

Q: Why would you choose a DE filtration system?

A: DE filtration technology has been and remains the dominant filtration technology of the brewing industry for over 80 years and thousands of systems have been installed around the world. DE filtration is usually selected to filter beer for several reasons:

. Low acquisition costs

. Readily available

. High efficiency, high throughput

. Excellent flexibility and adaptability (to achieve certain filtration characteristics)

Q: What is the downside to a DE filtration system?

Beer making, and therefore beer filtration, is an art. A DE filtration system, by the sheer nature of the system being adaptable and flexible, allows the operator to adjust the system to bring out the best taste and best quality in beer. This takes time and a knowledgeable operator. Beer filtration can be a time consuming process to properly prepare, set up, maintain and clean a DE filter system.

Q: Why would you choose a membrane filtration system?

A: Membrane filtration manufacturers have touted membranes as a safer, greener and more convenient alternative to diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth contains low levels of crystalline silica simple control procedures eliminate any potential health issues. A good amount of “spent cake” is produced when using DE. Membrane filter companies have indicated that spent cake is not recyclable, but that has been proven incorrect, especially with recent developments in spent cake recycling.

Q: What is the downside to a membrane filtration system?

A: A membrane filtration system will significantly increase water and energy costs, simply because of how the technology works, leading to increased capital and operating costs. Membrane filters are complex to operate and maintain and require special additives (enzymes, peroxides). Membrane filters remove specific sized particles based on the size cartridges installed, so there isn’t the adaptability that you’ll see with a DE filter to make changes, depending on the nature of the beer. Membrane filters can strip flavor from the beer and are also prone to fouling, decreasing flux rate over time, and clogging problems.

Q: What is the main challenge in beer filtration, no matter the type of filtration technology?

A: The most difficult particles to remove from a liquid are those that are:

. Small (sub-micron)

. Biological in nature (soft & compressible)

Very small particles are not really solid particles at all, but are in a grey area of being partly solubilized macromolecules. In beer, some of these are important as they contribute to the foam stability, the color and texture of the brew and what’s called “mouth feel”. Other small particles cause haze and instability and need to be retained in the filter.

The problem with a filtration system (membrane) which is 100% based on particle size is that important components can be lost – components that add to the taste and “personality” of the beer. Only DE filtration technology is capable of a more selective filtration process.

Q: What is the overall best liquid filtration system?

A: Natural filtration is always best. Beer is a natural product and will exhibit variability at the filter. That variability requires a filtration system that is adaptable and flexible. You want a filtration system that will produce the finest beer possible, especially from a taste perspective. A natural DE filtration system works best for the following reasons:

. Adaptability to varying filtration requirements is easy

. A wide variety of filter aid permeability choices exist to meet specific beer brand challenges

. High throughputs with minimal footprint in the cellar

. Up to 6 times lower water consumption

. Up to 2 times lower energy consumption

. Low capital investment required. Low cost for filter media.

. DE filtration systems are indeed sustainable. The spent cake that is produced is recyclable.

Let’s talk about filters! For more information on filtration, we’d like to have you talk to a filtration expert.






Incredible Mineral – Electric Car Battery Challenge

car-batteryDiatomaceous earth is truly incredible. Every day we find a new use or application for our DE. This week, UC Riverside engineering professors announced that they’re using DE as a source of silica for electric car battery anodes.

Most people who believe in the electric car revolution would agree with this statement: “Batteries that power electric vehicles are expensive and need to be frequently charged, which causes anxiety for consumers and negatively impacts the sale of these vehicles”

 Those are the words of Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California – Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering. He and his colleague Cengiz Ozkan, a professor of mechanical engineering at UCR, have recently published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports entitled “Carbon-Coated, Diatomite-Derived Nanosilicon as a High Rate Capable Li-ion Battery Anode.”  Mihri Ozkan says, “We believe diatomaceous earth, which is abundant and inexpensive, could be another sustainable source of silicon for battery anodes.”

Lithium ion batteries, the most popular rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles and personal electronics, have several major components including an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte made of lithium salt dissolved in an organic solvent. The anode and cathode are the electrodes that connect the storage medium to the outside world. Better electrodes make better batteries. End of story.The professors have previously investigated using Portobello mushrooms and beach sand to make better anodes for batteries. Their latest research delves into the possibility of using the fossilized remains of single-cell algae called diatoms. If their research is correct, the diatoms could be the key to less expensive, more energy efficient silicon-based anodes for lithium ion batteries.Today, graphite is the material of choice for most anodes. It is cheap, but electrodes made from graphite have limited performance. Silicon, which can store about 10 times more energy, is being developed as an alternative anode material. The problem is that the traditional way of manufacturing it, called carbothermic reduction, is expensive and requires lots of energy.To change that, the UCR team turned to a cheap source of silicon—diatomaceous earth (DE)—and a more efficient chemical process. DE is an abundant, silicon-rich sedimentary rock that is composed of the fossilized remains of diatoms deposited over millions of years. Using a process called magnesiothermic reduction, the group converted this low-cost source of silicon dioxide to pure silicon nano-particles.“A significant finding in our research was the preservation of the diatom cell walls—structures known as frustules—creating a highly porous anode that allows easy access for the electrolyte,” Cengiz Ozkan says.Every report about a breakthrough in the lab has to be accompanied by a disclaimer. Thousands of researchers are spending millions of dollars in search of better batteries. Some of the parameters being addressed are weight, cost, energy density, size, and power. There is a new “breakthrough” announced every few days, it seems.One day not too far in the future, batteries for electric cars will be half the size, half the weight, half the cost, and have twice the energy density of today’s batteries. No one discovery will make all of that happen.










Celebrating Diatomaceous Earth Day 31st August

de-mines4-650x375-webBiologists know about diatoms, the single-celled plants that form diatomaceous earth, because they are truly the lungs of the earth, in that they produce about ¾ of the world’s new oxygen supply. Materials scientists know about diatom skeletons (called frustules), the tiny, intricate porous opal structures, because they are known to be the strongest naturally-occurring substances.

On August 31, we celebrated Diatomaceous Earth Day to recognize the diatom and the remarkable substance it creates, diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth, also known as DE, is a sedimentary rock found in large deposits worldwide and mined primarily in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, France, Spain, Denmark, and China. While still being formed today, some of the deposits of diatomaceous earth were formed millions of years ago. Diatomaceous earth deposits are formed as diatoms die and fall to the bottom of bodies of water. Over time, the organic portions of the diatoms are weathered away and the remaining opal frustules form diatomaceous earth. Some of the largest deposits in the U.S. were formed in ancient lakes in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, and some large deposits were also formed in oceans and occur along the coasts of North and South America.

Discovered by Peter Kasten in Germany around 1836, DE is known for its absorbency, filtration properties, polishing properties and stabilizing qualities. Long before Kasten’s discovery, though, the world was using diatomaceous earth. Ancient Greeks used it as an abrasive as well as a building material in light-weight bricks, and, even in pre-historic times, diatomite was used in the ice-age cave paintings in France.

Today, DE is one of the most useful and durable substances known. DE sees nearly ubiquitous use in the filtration of liquids, including, beer, wine, water (for swimming), chemicals, food and pharmaceuticals; DE provides the flatting in almost all flat paints; DE prevents blocking in plastic film and when oil is spilled, DE is often the first choice to absorb it. And there are hundreds of other applications for DE with many more yet to be discovered!