Algist Bruggeman is a leading producer of baker’s yeast that aims for sustainable operation and production security. Production is strongly dependent on water availability and the main source of water, being ground water, is under potential future stress in terms of availability and quality. To be prepared for future challenges, Algist Bruggeman and Water Experts investigated alternative water sources and drafted a masterplan for water management.
Production is highly dependent on water availability, making water a very valuable resource. For years, Algist Bruggeman has been working with academics and experts to minimize the impact on the local water ecosystem. Currently, the main source of water, being groundwater, is scarce and Algist wants to study how they can reduce their footprint without compromising quality.
To solve this challenge, a future-proof water management plan was required, which allow Algist Bruggeman to rely on more than one source of water and always have production security.
A stepwise approach was used, starting with a thorough investigation of the initial situation, in which the main water source was groundwater with a limited amount of tap water. All water flows and qualities were determined in detail to have thorough insights in the water balance. Potential alternative water sources were identified:
All possible technologies and combinations were evaluated to treat the available water sources to the required drinking water quality. Being a food company, drinking water standards must always be met for the process water. Advantages and disadvantages of each combination, along with practical and technical perspectives, were considered. Together with Algist Bruggeman, a choice was made on the technology most applicable to their situation. It was also considered to install one centralized treatment plant that can cover all water sources to generate process water of sufficient quality.
A detailed study was made to install a combination of ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis, where the ultrafiltration can shift between groundwater and effluent water to allow for flexibility. Ultrafiltration was sufficient to treat groundwater (tested & confirmed in a pilot installation) and reverse osmosis after ultrafiltration was required for reusing the effluent of the wastewater treatment plant. Pre-treatment was not necessary as the effluent water was already of sufficient quality to apply ultrafiltration. In case post treatment would be required using activated carbon, a connection was foreseen to allow easy installation. Disinfection occurs in the last buffer tank prior to application as process water. In case river water would be used in the future as well, the reverse osmosis could be designed to cope with the worst-case salinity of the river water to allow for extra flexibility.
The water balance was studied in detail to know the flow rates and variability in flow rates. This is important to match supply of water and demand for process water. This allowed to properly design the buffer volumes and the treatment installation (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Example of matching supply and demand to design the treatment installation capacity and the buffer tank size.
The potential treatment installation was designed by Water Experts, considering many aspects such as flow rates, size, operational pressure, chemical usage (for coagulation, membrane cleaning, antiscalants,…) need for backwash, electricity consumption, intermediary buffer tanks, recoveries of membrane technologies, types of membranes, operational conditions,…
This extensive basic design ensured that the installation would be of the required quality both in design and future operation.
Several scenarios were selected to evaluate the cost, based on the basic design and considering both investment cost and operational cost. The economic assessment also considered cost savings related to a lower abstraction of groundwater and other potential savings related to water reuse.
Of course, compared to groundwater, effluent water reuse was more expensive. However, ensuring production capacity through flexible use of alternative water sources is sometimes more important than the extra cost related to using an alternative water source. Thanks to the extensive scenario analysis, it was possible to select the scenario which minimized cost for Algist Bruggeman, while optimizing water availability.
Parallel to other steps, the impact analysis of the obtained concentrate is of utmost importance. Effluent water reuse concentrates the pollution in a smaller flow of wastewater to be discharged in the canal. Water Experts performed the impact analysis, which was positively evaluated by the regulatory agency
This future-proof masterplan for water management will unburden Algist Bruggeman from the future challenges ahead. They are prepared and can enjoy production security through flexible use of alternative water sources and reliable treatment technology for drinking water quality.
The guidance of Water Experts allowed for a qualitative end result and clear steps towards implementation.