Wastewater

How RO System Optimization Helped a California Beverage Plant Reduce Water Consumption by 20%

By Erica Robles, Ray Eaton, Lee Durham

CONSERVATION FOOD & BEVERAGE FOULING MEMBRANES REVERSE OSMOSIS SCALING SILICA SUSTAINABILITY

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Abstract

In 2012, the total bottled water consumption in the United States was 9.67 billion gallons, the strongest it had been in five years. It is estimated that every person in America drinks an average of 30.8 gallons per year of bottled water. In addition to bottled water, carbonated beverages are a $16 billion industry with 959 facilities located across the U.S (2). One of the things that both of these industries have in common is their consumption of water.

The average bottling facility uses water throughout the production process as the final product makes its way to store shelves. In addition to the fact that water is the main ingredient for the end product itself, it is also used extensively when mixing and introducing additives, in cleaning process equipment, and for general facility use.

However, just as municipalities are being challenged with conservation goals and mandates, these same requirements are being passed on to the industrial sector, including the beverage industry. As potable water quality continues to decline from the effects of droughts and population increases, regulatory agencies will inevitably call for a mandated reduction in overall water usage and this shift will have a significant and detrimental effect on the beverage industry.

This article will offer a case study on a beverage facility located in California. This plant voluntarily reduced their water consumption by 20%. In order to achieve this goal while still meeting their production goals, plant engineers, operators, consultants, and members of the newly implemented sustainability committee convened and focused on the reverse osmosis (RO) system specifications to see if a higher recovery could be realized. This case study will provide an insight into the sustainability goals within the beverage industry and their desire to preserve water using step-bystep processes. The study also includes a discussion on the factors that must be understood and employed to ensure success and gives valuable insight for others seeking to satisfy water conservation and production goals, maintain optimal RO operation, and improve and maximize future sustainability.

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