Graphene membranes - Future enabler for better plant-based foods and beverages

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Birgitte Skadhauge


Carlsberg Research Laboratory


DKK 19,980,675




Strategic Grants


The aim of this project is to explore the application of graphene oxide (GO) membranes for more healthy, sustainable, and responsible plant-based food and beverages production. Graphene has unique applications in chemistry and biology due to possibility of attaching various chemical functional group. This allows construction of active membranes to form a perfect separation of organic molecule. A plant-based lifestyle can lower the impact of climate change, but exclusive plant-based diets could also have negative effect on humans. This project resolves these challenges by applying a novel membrane technology to plant-based foods and beverages separation. Obtained knowledge and scientific results could have multiple applications and far reaching impact.


The project will target selective removal of sugars, alcohol, and acids to obtain a more balanced plant-based diet, by investigating and applying novel membrane technology. Currently, the only way of reducing sugars is conversion into alcohol or acids and subsequent removal, resulting in reduced nutritional value due to micronutrient oxidation and degradation of bio-active proteins. Reduction of sugars will provide healthier variants, improve glycemic index and balance protein/carbohydrate/fiber ratios, which are problematic in many plant foods due to low protein/fiber content. Similarly, direct acid removal from juices or fermented foods will reduce risk of dental damage. Finally, any food and beverages produced by yeast fermentation could benefit from selective alcohol removal.


The challenges will be to develop and eventually improve membrane selectivity for the proposed targets, optimize flux potential, reduce fouling and increase chemical resistance during cleaning. Since the membrane composition is a key element in achieving the proposed results, a cross functional collaboration is necessary. GO membrane tasks will be addressed by the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre at UoM (UK) and DTU (DK) using state-of-the-art facilities equipped with different microscopies, electronic/optical measuring, Nanoscale Thermal Analysis, and chemical modification capabilities. Process understanding, validation and evaluation will take place at Carlsberg Research Laboratory (CRL) utilizing extensive analytical, fermentation, and beverage capabilities.

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