Energy Savings Through Osmotic Concentration for the Food and Beverage Processing Industry

Porifera's PFO Concentrator System will revolutionize the food and beverage industry by offering superior quality products with less energy and cheaper operating costs.

Porifera, Inc.


San Leandro, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Update

In the third season of demonstration, Porifera optimized the higher-processing capacity system to achieve greater productivity and energy efficiency. Draw regeneration with thermal processing was demonstrated and will be compared to draw regeneration with membranes for energy efficiency calculations. Additional product was made for the customer for further marketing studies and customer development. The PFO Concentrator technology was demonstrated on juices from sources other than watermelon to show the expanded market potential.

The Issue

There is a need for energy-efficient methods to concentrate food and beverage products with high tolerance to processing conditions, that will not degrade product quality. While thermal evaporators are widely used, they are energy intensive and degrade products. Membrane systems have also been used to concentrate dilute food and beverage products, but most of these systems have significant operation limitations caused by fouling of the membrane and pressure limits. These issues have rendered most membrane systems unusable for the majority of food and beverage processing, including concentration of fruits and vegetable juices, and dairy products.

Project Innovation

Porifera will demonstrate a commercial-scale system that offers an energy efficient way to create high quality concentrates without using heat or pressure. They will build and install their PFO Concentrator system, using an innovative forward osmosis technology to reduce energy, chemicals, and maintenance required for food and beverage processors. The system will be installed for operations at a watermelon processing plant in California, for the duration of three consecutive processing seasons. The team will generate and analyze various juice samples throughout the season and post-season, and make refinements to the system until a third and final configuration is able to demonstrate production of a sellable concentrate that is superior to current quality levels. Porifera is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study and produce freeze-dry products from the concentrates to demonstrate other applications of the system. Measurement and Verification will be performed by the USDA and results will be shared with Energy Commission staff, industry stakeholders, and the demonstration host site.

Project Goals

Demonstrate market readiness of the PFO Concentrator by validating the concentration of other food and beverage products.
Advance the abilities of the PFO Concentrator system between multiple watermelon processing seasons of operation.
Demonstrate the freeze-drying of PFO Concentrator products

Project Benefits

This project will help the state achieve its statutory energy goals by demonstrating an innovative technology that can produce juice concentrate and freeze-dried powder products that meet food safety standards, is cheaper, and more energy efficient than current mainstream thermal evaporator systems.

Consumer Appeal

Consumer Appeal

Food and beverage products will have improved aromas, flavors, and colors, increasing the variety of natural products available on the market.

Lower Costs


The PFO Concentrator has the potential to provide between 50-90 percent cost savings over conventional thermal evaporators by offsetting energy and water use.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The PFO Concentrator will reduce CO2 emissions and will improve groundwater and surface water resources due to increased reuse of water.

Key Project Members

Olgica Bakajin, PhD

Olgica Bakajin, PhD

Jennifer Klare, PhD

Jennifer Klare, PhD

Senior Director of Applications & Operations



Agricultural Research Services, United States Department of Agriculture


Match Partners


Porifera, Inc.


Contact the Team