Small reverse osmosis machines can be built from consumer parts and can help small producers cut down on boiling time and energy use. This article offers tips on building such devices.
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Hurley Wisconsin maple program presentation by Joe Polak of Maple Hollow on using ROs to make your operation more efficient.
Research findings on high-brix reverse osmosis production.
One of the biggest drawbacks of making maple syrup for a back yarder or small maple producer is the time it takes to boil the sap into syrup. The idea of using a small reverse osmosis unit to assist with the syrup making is very interesting to many small maple producers. There are many little reverse osmosis systems available for water purification in households or for small commercial applications. These can be purchased from a number of big box stores, home improvement stores or on line. These RO units can be used to remove water from sap to speed up the concentration and syrup boiling process.
Techniques used to produce maple syrup have considerably evolved over the last decades making them more efficient and economically profitable. However, these advances must respect composition and quality standards as well as authenticity of maple products. Recently, a new and improved high vacuum technology has been made available to producers to achieve higher sap yields. The aim of the present study was therefore to evaluate the effect of this new system on the yield of sap and on the sap and syrup chemical composition.
Reverse osmosis is used widely in the maple syrup industry to concentrate maple sap and increase the overall efficiency and profitability of syrup pro-duction. Sets of samples from maple producers utilizing a range of sap con-centration levels were collected and analyzed to provide a portrait of the phy-sicochemical properties and chemical composition of maple sap, concentrate, and permeate across a single production season. The results reinforce that re-verse osmosis functions essentially as a concentration process, without signifi-cantly altering the fundamental proportions of sap constituents.
Given our extensive research experience on RO processing and flavor, and the appearance of new RO technology that could concentrate to higher levels, a shift toward this new technology seemed appropriate. Therefore after investigating various options, we entered into a partnership with Lapierre Equipment to utilize the new HyperBrix RO system at UVM PMRC. This paper describes some aspects of our first two seasons of use of this equipment. Given the state of the industry, we define Òhigh brixÓ maple sap processing as RO machines capable of producing concentrate at 30¡Brix or higher.
Concentrating sap with reverse osmosis (RO) substantially increases the efficiency and profitability of processing maple sap into syrup by reducing the amount of fuel and time required to complete concentration to syrup density in the evaporator, with gains proportional to the level of sap pre-concentration. Because most flavor development in maple syrup occurs through nonenzymatic browning reactions as sap is processed with heat in the evaporator, it has often been speculated that reduced evaporator processing time resulting from the use of RO might also result in perceptible impacts on syrup flavor. However, a series of controlled experiments conducted at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center using the same sap processed to different levels with RO determined that concentrating sap up to 21.5% prior to boiling in standard maple evaporators had no substantive effects on syrup composition or flavor.
Between 2008 and 2011 we conducted a series of controlled experiments performed with commercial maple equipment to investigate the potential effects of the use of RO on the composition, properties, and flavor of the maple syrup produced.
Cornell University’s Maple Specialist, Steve Childs reviews a second reverse osmosis system for a small-scale maple syrup producer. Reverse osmosis greatly reduces the time and energy spent in boiling maple syrup by pulling much of the water from the sap before the boiling process begins. Sap can be put through the system repeatedly and becomes more concentrated with each pass through the RO membrane. Boiling the concentrated sap at the end is always necessary however, as that greatly contributes to maple syrup’s rich flavor.