Food and beverage processors that use dilute caustic solutions for cleaning process equipment have shown increased interest in recovering the used caustic. The primary reason is that the price of caustic has increased significantly in the past year or so. Membrane filtration technology can be used to remove suspended solids (clarify with microfiltration) and/or dissolved solids (purify with nanofiltration) from these used caustic solutions. These treated caustic solutions are suitable for reuse within the processing plant as cleaning solutions. While an end-user’s specific process, performance, capital and operating cost parameters require pilot testing and process design evaluations to determine the economic viability of caustic recovery, the existing body of information from commercial and process development work allows for an evaluation of a “typical” caustic recovery application.
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