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Filtering Process Water

for Food & Beverage Production

Water is a critical part of many food & beverage processes. Water may be treated using anything from sediment filters that remove only visible particles to reverse osmosis systems with sterilizing filters. Below is a more detailed discussion of filter use in process water systems. If you wish to explore specific water system filter options, go to the product selection table at the bottom of this page.

Below is a schematic of a complete reverse osmosis system with filters noted. The filters shown include those for particle filtration and system prefiltration, bacteria reduction, and sterilizing filtration as well as other applications.


Not all of the treatment steps shown are necessary for all food & beverage processes. Each treatment or filtration step produces water suitable for some food & beverage processing steps. In many cases, only water used as an ingredient will require all of the components shown in the figure.

Common filter applications are briefly described below the figure, and in more detail on our applications pages.


Below is a schematic of a multi-step water treatment system. The system shown is for producing purified water. The water quality after any of the treatment steps may be suitable some applications, so not all of these components will be required in every application.

Filters in Process Water Systems

multi-step water treatment system schematic

Particle Filtration and System Prefiltration

The removal of sediment and other suspended particles is critical to the clean operation of any system. Even the water used in flumes to carry raw fruits and vegetables for processing should be filtered to remove sediment and avoid fouling piping or depositing visible particles on the products. Of course, removing sediment and small particulates is key to the efficient, cost effective operation of any purified water treatment system. Performed using depth filtration media, the particle filtration and prefiltration processes preserve system performance and can reduce operating costs.

Trap Filtration

Many water treatment systems involve water passing through either a water softener or deionization (not shown). These systems are based on specially made plastic resin beads. Resin can break down over time and particulate can escape resin vessels, so filters are used to trap the particles and prevent their contamination of downstream processes. Again, depth filtration is most often used for this function.

Bacteria Control

These filters may be used for bioburden reduction, for sterilizing filtration or for ultrafine particle removal. Membrane filters with pore sizes of 0.65µm or 0.45µm are usually chosen for these applications.

Sterilizing Filtration

Sterilizing filters are used as insurance against adding waterborne bacteria to processes. This last process water filtration step assures that microorganisms that may have entered the treatment system are removed and protects the quality and safety of your processes and products.

Sterilizing filtration is defined as removing all bacteria from the fluid stream. Filtration products making the sterilizing claim must be supplied with proof that they can perform as claimed. That proof is usually in the form of a certificate of compliance stating that the filter has been tested during production to assure that it will remove organisms the size of those targeted in the user’s system.

Tank Vent Filtration

After purification, water may be stored in a tank system to assure an adequate supply during peak demand periods. Filtration acts as a critical control step for protecting your water from particle and/or bacterial contamination from the environment around the tank. Hydrophobic filters are used to block particles ranging in size from visible dust to micro-particles as small as 0.03 microns.

Tank Vent Filters

Validating Performance

The pharmaceutical industry has accepted successful removal of surrogate organisms by specific filter membranes as proof that a filter can remove organisms of similar size. The organisms are defined by an ASTM standard procedure for each pore size rating. The ASTM standard (ASTM F838-05 rev 2013) requires COMPLETE removal of all test bacteria when a filter is challenged with at least 107 organisms per cm2 of membrane surface area. This level of challenge is extremely unlikely in actual applications

Critical Process Filtration provides filters tested using the ASTM standard with 0.10µm filters challenged with Acholeplasma laidlawii; 0.22µm challenged with Brevundimonas diminuta; 0.45µm challenged with Serratia marcescens; 0.65µm with Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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

Critical Process Filtration has created some short explanations of how using filters in water systems helps protect product quality and improve process efficiency. Click on one of the links below to download an Application Summary.

Product Table

The table below shows filter technology options for bacteria control and sterilizing filtration in water systems from Critical Process Filtration with links to more detailed data on the filters.

Media Code

Filter Media

Filter Grade

Cartridge Datasheet

Capsule Datasheet

Disc Filter Datasheet

Pore Sizes Available (µm)



Asymmetric Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.03. 0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65

Highly asymmetric, hydrophilic PES membrane in a double-layer configuration for high efficiency and high flow rates


Symmetric Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane


Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.03. 0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.8, 1.0, 1.2

Symmetric, hydrophilic PES membrane for high efficiency filtration of water.


High Capacity Polyethersulfone (PES) Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.2, 0.5 and 1.0 single layer; 0.5/0.2 and 1.0/0.5 dual layer

High capacity membrane with single or dual layer configurations for bacteria and particulate reduction, low product adsorption and protection of final filters


High Capacity Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 1.2

High void volume membrane with high capacity for contaminant removal and holding in beverage production


Nylon 6,6 Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 0.65

Designed for sterilizing filtration in point-of-use applications in pharmaceutical and medical settings


Hydrophobic Polyvinylidene fluoride Membrane

Food & Beverage

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.22, 0.45, 0.65, 0.85, 1.0

High capacity hydrophobic membrane for economical bacteria control in vent filtration


PTFE Membrane


Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.1, 0.22, 0.45, 1.0

Highly hydrophobic with superior air flow rates for vent filtration


High-Temperature PTFE Membrane


Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

Acrobat Document

0.1, 0.22

Highly hydrophobic and constructed using high temperature materials for systems subjected to frequent heat sanitizations. Superior flow rates for vent filtration

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!