Monthly Archives: November 2020

Understanding Food and Beverage Wastewater Solutions

Many companies in the food and beverage industry create massive amounts of wastewater each day. Take beer for example. A pint of beer is around 95% water, but far more water is used up making that pint of beer. It’s estimated that you need as much as seven gallons of water to make one gallon of beer. Of that, about 70% of that water is discharged as wastewater to city sewers.

Now, think about it this way. The entire U.S. beer industry sold just over 203 million barrels of beer during 2019 One barrel is about 31 gallons, so about 6.29 trillion gallons of beer were sold in 2019. That means more than 44 trillion gallons of water were used to make all of that beer and an estimated 30.8 trillion gallons became wastewater.

That’s just the beer industry. If you think about all of the other food and beverage industries that produce wastewater, it’s easy to see how problems arise. If you have a wastewater district that accepts wastewater from the area’s breweries, meat processing plants, dairy plants, wineries, etc. that’s a lot of liquid. Too much poses the risk of overwhelming a plant. If the wastewater is released before it’s treated, it can harm the area’s wildlife and increase pollutants in area water sources. This is why it’s so important for the food and beverage industry to carefully consider wastewater solutions.

What’s in Your Wastewater?

You need to consider what’s in the effluent you produce. Wastewater treatment plants must meet local, state, and/or federal guidelines on the contaminants in water that’s released. Bacteria like coliform must meet the maximum levels. Restrictions are also in place for things like biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, phosphorus, nitrogen, and total suspended solids.

Breweries often produce high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. That’s the first part of the problem. Grains and hops must be filtered to prevent them from clogging lines. Plus, the gritty grains can damage equipment. There’s also the sludge from the yeast. If you’re a contributor to the higher levels of suspended solids, bacteria, and nutrients, you may pay sizable fees to be connected to that wastewater district.

A plant that processes poultry, pork, or beef may contribute to higher coliform counts due to the animals’ intestinal tracts and feces that are removed and rinsed from the floors. Ammonia counts can be higher with larger animals that urinate on the floors. Fat from the animal and its blood also poses a problem.

Dairy plants that make cheese or yogurt have bacteria that are flushed away at the end of the production cycle. Like a meat processing plant, there are also fats and greases to consider.

How Can Companies Better Manage Their Wastewater?

If you look at the amount of water used by many companies in the food and beverage industry, it’s substantial. The amount of wastewater produced is also immense. It often becomes cost-effective for companies to recycle their water for reuse or start the cleaning process before the effluent goes to a local wastewater treatment plant. These companies have implemented wastewater solutions within their businesses.

Alchemist Brewery in Vermont

Take Alchemist Brewery in Vermont for instance. The popularity of Heady Topper and Focal Banger had people coming from around the world to try the beer. When the demand became too much at their second facility, they decided to open a visitor’s center in Stowe and open a cannery in Waterbury. The brewery has a lot of organic matter from the yeast, hops, grains, and malt sugars. They started sending them to Vermont Technical College’s anaerobic digesters to create energy and fertilizer for area farms.

At the same time, the visitor center had room for the brewery to put in its own water treatment system. The wastewater goes into a settling tank before going to the pumping tank. Solids go to an aerobic digester where as much as 6,500 gallons are treated each week. The water that’s sent back to the water district is already cleaned, which lessens the impact on the wastewater treatment plant.

Two Cheesemakers Install Their Own Wastewater Treatment Plants

Cheesemakers process a lot of cream and milk with cultures that turn it into curds and whey. Those curds become some of the cheeses people buy at specialty shops and grocery stores. Not only is water consumption high, but the whey and bacteria become a lot for a water treatment plant to process. Rothenbühler Cheese aimed to solve this by adding an on-site water treatment plant.

A few years ago, Rothenbühler Cheese hired a wastewater treatment expert to design and install an anaerobic wastewater treatment system containing pumps that send the wastewater to a digester tank. It continues to a membrane bioreactor. The biogas that’s produced during water treatment is captured and used in the plant’s dual-fuel boiler.

Montchevre is another cheesemaker that installed an anaerobic digestion system after weighing the pros and cons of anaerobic digestion and sequencing batch reactors (SBR). This system cleans the wastewater and produces electricity from the resulting biogas at the same time. While you might think the cost of installing such a system is expensive, they were able to use special funding programs from the government to afford the upgrades.

Sometimes Wastewater Districts Must Expand

Some wastewater districts expand their treatment plants instead. In North Carolina, production at the Tyson chicken processing plant steadily increased, but that also put the wastewater district at max capacity. Heavy rains were putting the plant at risk of releasing untreated effluent, which is not ideal. While the district has no restriction on the amount of wastewater that can be released into the area river, there are limits on the biological oxygen demand.

To resolve this problem, the town officials decided it’s time to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant to make sure that the equipment does an exceptional job of treating the water. With a plant expansion, the district cleans the water, releases it to the river, and doesn’t change the biological oxygen demand. Experts in wastewater treatment will help design the upgraded system.

If your town needs to look at increasing capacity, it’s important. Recover the cost by working with area food and beverage manufacturers to upgrade and enlarge your wastewater treatment plant.

What if You’re Short on Space?

A Package Extended Aeration Treatment Plant is a good solution for those in the food and beverage industry. It has a compact design, which is ideal for a company that doesn’t have a lot of space available.

What does this all-in-one water treatment system include? It’s designed to screen, aerate, clarify, disinfect, and contain sludge in one tank. This makes it very easy to install. You get a Closed Loop Reactor Process where the mixing and extended aeration take place in an outer loop before it goes to the inner Spiraflo Clarifier for the final settling process.

Is your water district looking for ways to be more cost-effective and efficient? Do you own a food or beverage company? If you think an on-site treatment plant could help your impact on your area wastewater treatment plant, see what it would take to build your own small plant. You may find you save money by reducing or stopping the fees you pay to be part of that district.

Lakeside Equipment’s specialists help design systems of all sizes. Let us know what your goals are and what budget you have. We’ll help you establish a wastewater treatment system that matches your needs.

How Data & Analytics Can Improve Industrial Wastewater Operations

Industrial waste is cleaned before it is sent back to your company’s production lines, a local water source, or allowed to enter city sewers to go for treatment in your local waste district’s water treatment plant. As the wastewater produced in different industries can be full of pollutants, treating the water is important. The food industry may have high levels of ammonia, fat, and coliform bacteria. Power stations can have high levels of heavy metals. Treating water from these industries must be done correctly to prevent harm to people or the environment.

Managers and owners of industrial operations must carefully monitor and analyze each aspect of wastewater operations. Why? It’s important when it comes to your company’s bottom line. You need to make sure wastewater is treated effectively. You don’t want to risk releasing untreated overflow or water that doesn’t meet current guidelines for some reason. Fines for the release of untreated or poorly treated water can be costly both in terms of money and in damage to your company’s reputation. You also need to make sure you’re not wasting money on inefficient operations and excessive maintenance.

Optimizing industrial wastewater treatment is best done by paying attention to the data your systems collect. Use your operational data to look for trends and patterns in all stages of the wastewater treatment process. If you have updated wastewater equipment, it’s easy to capture data and analyze it. From there, you can predict trends, optimize your processes, and get the best practices in place for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

What Can You Learn From Data Collection and Wastewater Analytics?

What can you learn as you analyze your data? There’s a lot to be learned. An efficient wastewater treatment plant is one that handles the highs and lows, doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and repairs, and provides real-time reports to ensure water meets standards before it’s recycled or returned to a body of water. Through predictive analysis, you should be able to get a better understanding of these five areas.

First, you’re able to see what equipment is not operating as well as it can. If you have machines that are often down for maintenance, it’s costing you money. It’s impacting your wastewater treatment processes. You’ve collected data and find that one piece of equipment struggles to keep up with flow rates. Upgrading may be what it takes to have a more productive wastewater treatment system.

Second, you can track energy usage and flow rates. There may be specific times of day that wastewater rates slow down and other times when they peak. If pumps are operating at the same speed during all of these changes, it’s wasting energy. You can cut energy costs by creating systems that better accommodate the highs and lows.

Third, you’ll see where chemicals are used and if they’re being overused or not used enough. This helps keep your chemical costs to a minimum while also meeting the requirements for the water quality being released to a body of water or reused.

Fourth, you can look at the wastewater you do have and see if there are better ways to reuse it or clean it for release into the environment. Recycling wastewater is one of the best ways to keep costs down. If you could reuse water several times, you’re saving money on water bills. You don’t want dirty water impacting production. Data and analytics help you find the right balance.

Fifth, the other benefit to analytics in wastewater treatment has to do with your equipment. Say you’re seeing data that shows one pump is often breaking down and needing maintenance. You can see how much extra time and money is being spent on repairs. You’ll know if the equipment is still worth keeping or if it’s time to replace it.

How Do You Collect the Data You Need?

Of course, there are hurdles companies face when collecting the information. If even one piece of equipment isn’t connected and communicating with the others, data will be missing. That makes it hard to get a complete picture of the treatment process and quality. Data management tools that connect everything become essential. You may need to invest in additional training so that you and your employees understand what the data means and how to use it to your advantage.

You’re probably already taking the first big step in collecting data at each key point of your water treatment measures. If you have a SCADA system like many industrial settings, you have access to important data. You’re seeing the flow rates as water comes into the screens and grit collectors. You get measurements of the pollutants in the water that’s being treated. Before it’s released, you can see the numbers and make sure they meet federal and state standards. Pair the SCADA system with modern control systems and you have all of the information you need to start analyzing your plants’ processes.

A Sharp Biological Nutrient Removal (SharpBNR) control system helps you monitor your system and adjust aeration as needed to balance the oxygen levels in the wastewater as it’s treated. The computerized control system continually monitors the system status and makes adjustments. Alarms go off if there are problems beyond the system’s scope.

SharpBNR can be partnered with your plant’s SCADA system. Within a SCADA system, you have sensors taking readings at different pieces of wastewater equipment. Readings typically include measurements for flow rates, suspended solids, pump speeds, and Dissolved Oxygen. Those readings are shown on a screen for supervisors and operators. Each screen, grit pump, basin, etc. shows yesterday’s flow and today’s flow. That data can be analyzed to look for unusual changes and peak hours.

As your system begins to analyze the numbers, it learns the necessary adjustments to effectively manage each component. You can also add motor starters and Variable Frequency Drives with the SharpBNR for optimal management. As this information is available from any authorized and connected computer terminal, you can monitor readings from your office and get alerts wherever you happen to be at that moment.

What does that mean? The system is going to be more reliable than it has been because the computer can monitor several components at the same time. Instead of having workers in different areas communicating what they’re seeing, the computer has all of the information in real-time. Adjustments are made by the computer, which continues monitoring the changes and making small adjustments until everything is running smoothly. That reduces energy costs at the same time.

You do need to keep the sensors clean so that the data that’s returned is accurate. While your maintenance team may not be doing as much on repairs, remember they’ll be beneficial at cleaning and calibrating older sensors. This ensures you have accurate information to use as you analyze your industry’s water treatment processes.

SCADA systems are great at real-time tracking and giving warnings of problems as they come up, the systems don’t do as well at predicting future problems weeks or months in advance. Smart analytics fills this gap. Analyzing the data carefully is one way to predict machines or components that are reaching their end-of-life stages.

How modern is your equipment? Would upgrading help you? If your older wastewater equipment lacks some of today’s computerized controls, it can turn data and predictive analytics into a time-consuming task. Talk to Lakeside Equipment about your current set up and learn ways to make your industrial wastewater operations more cost-effective and efficient.