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    Taking mash filtration to the next level

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    14. September 2022
    5:15 min.
    For the next generation of its mash filter, Steinecker has attached major importance to high throughput, plenty of scope for variation and sustainable production.
    • At the drinktec 2022, visitors can take a first look at the revamped membrane plate.

    For several years already, Steinecker’s portfolio has included a mash filter built in-house. A specific project has now focused on a design upgrade tackling not only throughput and handling but also and especially sustainability.

    Besides the lauter tun, the mash filter constitutes the second important alternative for separating solids and liquids in breweries. It is used for an estimated 30 to 40 per cent of global beer production because its technology offers a number of persuasive advantages, particularly for countries where beers are not brewed in line with the German Purity Law.

    One important benefit: A mash filter allows brewers to use raw materials other than the conventional malt strains, including grist loads with a greater content of local cereals like sorghum, which is popular in African countries.

    What’s more, a greater yield coupled with high original extracts can be achieved, an attractive advantage especially for high-gravity brewing. All of these pluses result in reduced consumption of both primary energy and water, thus fitting in ideally with current efforts to design lines and systems for maximum energy- and resource-economy, in other words: for enhanced sustainability.

    New plate design developed

    Since Steinecker is also fully aware of mash filtration’s huge potential, the brewing technology experts conducted an extensive series of trials in their pilot plant. Based on the large number of results obtained and a comprehensive statistical data analysis, they then developed a new design for the proven mash filter plates, not only achieving the advantages mentioned above but also increasing the filter’s throughput and reducing its footprint.

    Following the successful trials in Steinecker’s in-house pilot plant, planning is currently underway for the installation of an industrial-scale pilot filter intended to validate the insights gained.

    Trials at Steinecker’s pilot plant – the details

    The preconditions

    Various process-engineering prerequisites must be met to ensure a successful filtration and wash-out operation. To this end, homogeneity must be achieved for a number of parameters which can be controlled by fluid mechanics. Firstly, the same mass of solid matter must be evenly deposited inside all chambers. Secondly, a filter cake of even thickness must be created which at all points exhibits the same filter cake resistance. That is achieved not only by the cake’s thickness but also by its particle composition. So it is likewise necessary to ensure a uniform particle-size distribution over the entire filtering area.

    Based on these considerations, Steinecker drew up an analysis plan and conducted trials in its pilot plant. Initially, 100 per cent of pilsner malt was used for these trials. After that, trial brews were run with wheat, rice, maize and sorghum with different liquor-to-grist ratios and different amounts of enzymes blended in.

    The results

    Building on the results of these pilot-plant trials, Steinecker developed the final design for the upgrade of its mash filter, first and foremost of its membrane plates. The most important outcomes are described below:

    • Higher throughput: A mass of 36 kilograms per square metre of malt equivalent turned out to be the ideal grist load (as compared to 30 kilograms per square metre loaded previously). This is made possible by a larger chamber depth of 50 millimetres. These revamped chambers can also be retrofitted to existing Steinecker mash filters, thus increasing throughput by 20 per cent for the same filter size.
    • Smaller footprint: If the vital focus is not on upsizing performance but on the space required to install the system, the shorter plate package is likewise a worthwhile option because if the throughput remains the same, the mash filter can be up to 2.6 metres shorter.
    • Flexibility in regard to type of filtration: The tests conducted have shown that for most raw materials single-side filtration is the most suitable method. However, two-side filtration can make sense for certain raw materials. The overall process would then run significantly faster.
    • Short process times: Process times permitting up to 14 brews a day were achieved in the trials. Occupancy time (without spent-grains removal) for a brew under acceptance-test conditions (100 per cent pilsner malt, 22 degrees Plato first wort) was 84 minutes, a timespan also expected for large-scale production. The process time is longer for higher original extracts.
    • Outstanding technological parameters: In the trials, a gravity of less than 3.5 degrees Plato (with reference to spent-grains dry matter) for the washable extract was reliably achieved in the process time mentioned, which according to the MEBAK (Mitteleuropäische Brautechnische Analysenkommission; Central European Commission for Brewing Analysis) corresponds to the requirements for this target variable.
    14. September 2022
    5:15 min.

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