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Clarification & Prefiltration

in Food & Beverage Processing

Food & beverage processing creates complex liquids requiring specialized filtration steps. The first step is, most often, removing larger particles and sediment. Read on for more information on particle and sediment filtration for food & beverage processing, or go to the product selection table at the bottom of this page for bacteria filter options.

Whether the liquid is raw juice, fermented wine, freshly brewed beer, spring water or municipal water for container cleaning, it carries sediment and particulates that food & beverage makers remove as part of the process of creating safe, flavorful products. The figure below shows the portions of process systems for different products and where clarification and prefiltration may occur.

Just after bulk filtration that removes fruit pulp or spent grains or yeast or hops, the product still contains many particles and organisms. The amount of product filtration and clarification required depends on the product.

Clarifying filtration is designed to remove more than just visible particles from the products. The filters remove particles that may contribute to chemical instability or support the growth of spoilage organisms. Clarifying is a critical filtration step in protecting the quality of the product.


Wine clarification often occurs just before final stabilization at the filling line. Particles and organisms in the wine after fermentation are removed via bulk filtration, though much of the particle and organism content is left in the wine for aging because it is what gives the flavor and character desired by the winemaker. However, to stabilize the wine for bottling, the particles and organisms are removed, with clarification filters as the first step in that process.


After fermentation and aging, beer is filtered using bulk systems, usually diatomaceous earth (DE) filters. The first cartridge filters in the brewing process capture yeast and particles not captured by the DE filters, but also to capture DE particles that are almost always released by those filters. These "Beer Trap" filters are the first critical filtration application that protects the quality of the beer.

Further clarification and prefiltration of "bright beer" is done using depth media based filters. This additional filtration step reduces small particles that could cause haze. The prefilters may also remove larger organisms that could affect beer flavor and appearance.

Soft Drinks

As ingredients for soft drinks are received, particle removal helps assure quality. Removing particles reduces the amount of material that might create off flavors. Housings marked "1" in the figure above indicate where filters may be used to reduce the particle content in ingredients. Performed using depth filtration media, the filters can remove larger, visible particles (> 20µm) or smaller particles (>5µm) according to process requirements.

Fruit Juices

Clear fruit juices are clarified immediately after the bulk removal of the fruit pulp. Small particles not captured by the bulk filtration process are removed to prevent adverse flavors from being introduced to the product.

Once juices have been filtered to remove larger particles, the next clarification and prefiltration steps can remove smaller particles that might reduce product clarity. The filters may also remove larger organisms such as yeast or mold spores that can affect flavor and appearance.

Bottled Water

Even bottled water may need some form of clarifying filtration. If the water is not spring water, but distilled or purified water, the source is often a municipal supply. Most municipal systems do an excellent job of removing particles larger than 2 microns in size as the water leaves the treatment plant. However, water distribution systems and even some water treatment processes inside plants may contribute particles to the water. These particles are generally harmless, but can agglomerate and become visible in light if not removed, which is the function of prefilters in bottled water plants.

Choosing the Right Filter Media

Almost all clarification filtration applications are done using depth filtration media. Cartridge filters use two forms of depth media. The standard depth filter is a self-supporting tube made using a polymer, most often polypropylene, and forming the tube using the melt-blown or nano-spun process. The other form of cartridge depth filter uses pleated flat sheet media, most often made with polypropylene or fiberglass.

Standard depth filters will capture a range of particle sizes through the thickness of the media. Pleated media filters have the advantage of a large surface area that can hold a higher quantity of particles than the standard depth filters.

In pleated depth filters, polypropylene is the most widely used material for water and chemical filtration, but fiberglass has better filter efficiency and generally allows higher flows and throughput than polypropylene. For most food & beverage applications, fiberglass media is preferred by users.

Custom systems are designed for new applications and to solve challenges in existing processes. Critical Process Filtration will work with you to design, build and install a cost-effective system that delivers the results you need. Contact us or visit our custom filtration systems page for more information.

Application Summaries

For more information on specific applications, click on the links below to download an Application Summary.

Our filter media are available in multiple filter formats for all flow ranges. Disc filters support small scale flows in test and research laboratories. Small capsule filters are available for low flow applications such as bench scale systems or small product development systems. Our large disposable capsule filters and cartridge filters are used for larger flow applications ranging from pilot production to full scale operations.

Product Table

The table below shows the filter media in cartridge, capsule and disc filter configurations. We also have sanitary housings for filter cartridges Click on the Acrobat Icon in the appropriate location to download a data sheet for the filter media and configuration that fits your needs. For a complete list of all Food & Beverage filters from Critical Process Filtration, click here.

Media Code

Filter Media

Filter Grade

Cartridge Datasheet

Capsule Datasheet

Disc Filter Datasheet

Pore Sizes Available (µm)



Melt-Blown Polypropylene Media


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1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, 75, 100

Continuously spun bonded polypropylene media for consistent 85% nominal performance


Nano-spun Polypropylene Media


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1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50

Very high retention efficiency (99%) and high load capacity to protect downstream processes


Pleated Polypropylene Depth Media

Food & Beverage

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0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.0, 3.0, 5.0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60, 100

100% polypropylene construction for high purity


Pleated Fiberglass Depth Media

Food & Beverage

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0.22, 0.30, 0.45, 0.65, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 5.0, 10, 20, 30

High capacity filters for clarification and prefiltration applications

To estimate the number of filters you will need for your application, use our unique sizing tools.

Contact Critical Process Filtration if you have any questions, wish to discuss a specific application or want to learn more about any of our Products and Services. We look forward to hearing from you!