Water recovery and reuse in the fractionation of protein hydrolysate by ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes
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AuthorAbejón Elías, Ricardo; Abejón Elias, Azucena; Belleville, Marie Pierre; Garea Vázquez, Aurora; Irabien Gulías, José Ángel; Sánchez Marcano, José
The fractionation of a protein hydrolysate obtained from tuna processing by-products by means of a membrane cascade integrating ultrafiltration (UF) and nanofiltration (NF) membranes was proposed in order to separate and purify the protein fraction between 1 and 4 kDa, which is the most interesting for nutraceutical purposes. A simulation model, based on mass balances and empirical equations for describing permeate flux and rejection of protein fractions, was developed and complemented with a simple cost estimation model. The product purity (49.3 %) and the process yield (62.6 %) were independent of the total water consumption of the process, but high water consumptions were required to maintain the total protein content of the stream below upper bounds that assured the absence of membrane clogging. The implementation of a water recovery system, based on an additional tight NF stage, implied improvements in both environmental and economic aspects of the process.