From July 2019
Dealcoholisation - pilot scale trials
The dealcoholised drinks industry is a dynamic sector
with reduced alcohol drinks becoming increasingly
popular with consumers. The international reduced
alcohol beer market alone is estimated to be worth
over $25 billion by 2024, with significant growth also
predicted for lower alcohol wines and spirits.
As a result, industry is turning its attention towards the
dealcoholisation technologies used for such products.
We are active in helping companies develop
dealcoholised beers, ciders, wines and spirits to meet
The two traditional methods of dealcoholisation
either reduce or remove ethanol. Arrested batch
fermentation keeps ethanol levels low by removing
yeast at an early stage to terminate fermentation.
Vacuum distillation, however, uses rotary evaporation
or spinning cone technology to remove ethanol.
A third and relatively new technology, which we use
at our Nutfield site, is based on ‘membrane processing’.
It can produce a final low alcohol, dealcoholised or
alcohol-free product whilst retaining flavour.
How membrane processing works
Membrane processing uses a membrane to ‘filter’
ethanol and water from an alcoholic drink. The
process works by flowing the alcoholic liquid parallel
to a membrane at high velocity while under pressure.
Water and ethanol pass through the membrane pores
and so are removed from the (now dealcoholised)
drink. Water is then re-introduced to replace that
which was lost and recover the final volume of the
The size of the pores within the membrane greatly
influences the process. A membrane with smaller pores
will reduce the loss of desirable flavour molecules
(which are larger than water and ethanol) but will slow
the filtration; this in turn will create a slower and more
expensive process. A membrane with larger pores can
filter much faster but will lose some flavour molecules.
A compromise is often required to maintain product
quality while managing processing costs.
How membrane processing
can help you
Our facility at Campden BRI has the only unit in the UK
for dealcoholisation by nanofiltration available to do
small-scale commercial trials. Our pilot unit can
dealcoholise any volume between one and 50 litres in
a day. Larger volumes can also be processed with
careful planning. The technology is also scalable to plant
size. We have a range of membranes, each with a
specific pore size, allowing us to work with any
alcoholic beverage. In the case of highly flavoured
beverages, such as gins, we use a dedicated clientspecific
membrane to avoid any potential for flavour
The process can create specific conditions for different
products. For example, during processing the pH can
be regulated, and air can be excluded for oxygensensitive
products such as beer. In addition to this, the
absence of heat treatment means thermal damage is
To ensure there is no loss in flavour, we can carry out
comparative taste tests on membrane-processed and
un-processed samples. The samples produced by our
pilot unit can be used for sensory testing, proof of
concept, sensory analysis and consumer testing.
You may also be interested in