Food production has always been a demanding and competitive process. Executives are constantly challenged by slow product development cycles, competition from healthier alternatives and even food fraud. In today’s climate, producers now worry they can be perceived as environmentally and socially irresponsible, resulting in some retail chains refusing to stock their brands until they make often intensive and expensive changes.
Many producers are being hit by a second blow to their profit margins due to failing and overcapacity Publicly Operated Treatment Works (POTWs). Wastewater previously discharged with little care may now be subject to volume and contaminant surcharges as POTWs repair infrastructure and struggle to meet increased EPA discharge regulations.
Finally, treatment system operators with decades of experience are retiring and their tribal knowledge of how to run their antiquated treatment system retires with them. This leaves owners and executives wondering how to replace that knowledge base and ensure they remain in compliance.
In the face of increased regulatory control and rising environmental concerns about wastewater, food producers are looking for cost-effective ways to stay in compliance while keeping operating costs low. Anguil’s four-step approach to industrial wastewater treatment challenges can help producers address economical, operational and compliance challenges.
NAILING DOWN THE REQUIREMENTS
Anguil Environmental provides highly engineered environmental equipment and service solutions that solve complex industrial air and water challenges. When we are aiding companies with water projects, we follow a very simple but effective process to deliver systems tailored to each customer’s specific needs.
The first step is to understand the business case.
We collaborate with the client to understand their challenges, and determine the project needs and objectives. We gather benchmark data to assist with alignment of solutions that offer the best return on investment (ROI), then work with the customer to understand their decision process and criteria to ensure we can check all their boxes. For example, is our customer willing to spend more on controls and automation to minimize operator involvement or to better deploy staff in other areas of the facility?
In this case, a client was looking at TSS surcharge costs of $40,000 per quarter and a surcharge of $20,000 per quarter for acidic discharge waters. The client was essentially looking at $240,000 in increased operating costs per year. BOD did not receive a surcharge, and overall water volume costs were negligible.
The second step is to explore and validate all treatment and operational processes in the Anguil lab.
Anguil validates all potential treatment and process options that align with the customer objectives. A client wanted to determine a solution for TSS removal below discharge requirements. We started by asking the client to send a wastewater sample to our inhouse wet lab to validate potential treatment protocols. We determined pH / polymer protocol resulted in TSS removals well below the discharge requirements. Hence, we determined a simple scheme could meet the customer’s goals.
After bench-testing provided us with a viable treatment option, we generated a simple Process Flow Diagram (PFD) to illustrate the primary equipment integrated into the treatment train. This train included the appropriate equalization and buffer tanks, pump logistics, clarifier, and a filter press for solids handling. In our discussion with the client, we offered additional options including:
- Ballasted flocculation versus straight clarification to lessen the overall footprint
- A rotary vacuum drum for dewatering instead of a filter press to lessen the burden on facility personnel and lower the liquid content (weight) of solids being shipped off site
Even though the customer appreciated the pros of each option, after reviewing the capital cost increase, the client decided to remain with the original approach.
The third step is a pilot system onsite to test waters in-situ:
With the client satisfied with our lab trials, we asked if they required a pilot system to validate the treatment approach insitu. When asked for our opinion on the value added, we stated we were confident with the treatment approach and market proven technologies. In this case a pilot study would not bring a great deal of value.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
The final step in the process is the Commercial Deployment.
After completion of lab testing, discussion of various equipment options and testing against the business case, Anguil provided a firm proposal for a treatment system which would meet the treatment efficacy and business needs of the customer. The proposal contained detailed nuts and bolts information on the treatment system, estimated operational costs and options for installation, start-up and commissioning. The flexible approach allowed the customer to choose the package that best suited their needs. Anguil provided installation supervision while their local mechanical and electrical partners were contracted directly by the customer to install the equipment. Anguil performed a 3-day start-up and training. Anguil provided final “as-built” drawings within 2-weeks of startup and shipped spare parts the client requested. Additionally, Anguil’s Aftermarket and Service group was proactively in touch, ready to provide long term system and parts support.
Anguil followed a better approach to solving complex water challenges, which started with listening to the client’s needs and business case. Anguil advocated an efficient process that would provide the client with the information they wanted to make an informed decision.
- TSS surcharges had risen 3x what they experienced 3 years prior
- Without reduction, operational costs and compliance could prove negative to business growth and profitability
- The lab trials at Anguil quickly validated the most cost-effective approach to reduce Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
- 5-gallon sample sent to Anguil wet-lab for testing was ideal to determine equipment sizing and validate capital costs of the equipment
- Lab trials allowed Anguil to optimize the chemistry and extrapolate an operational expense for the entire water treatment system
- Anguil leveraged a Process Flow Diagram (PFD) to illustrate the equipment in the primary approach, while also showing options to increase automation, lower resources for solids handling, minimize moisture content in solids, and reduce overall footprint.
- General Arrangement (GA) drawing allowed client to understand process flow
- GA allowed Anguil to offer different options to client, such as Rotary Vacuum Drum vs. Filter Press for solids handling
- Offering options allowed the client to make an informed decision on the system capabilities and system price point based on their decision criteria.
- Anguil Project Manager (PM) led internal Project Launch and engineering completed necessary drawings within two weeks for customer to review and sign-off on.
- PM launched internal kick-off meeting within 48 hours of receipt of PO
- Nine people from nine departments attended to define and own their respective responsibilities
- Anguil provided Installation Supervision over local contractors, who were responsible for installing equipment and handling electrical wiring to panel, equipment and pump skids.
- Anguil provided engineering drawings to local contractors familiar with the client site to bid on mechanical, electrical
and piping/plumbing of system.
- All Anguil skids were self-contained, including all electrical and piping, so connection could come to a j-box or single inlet/outlet on skid
The final treatment system offered an ROI in line with management’s criteria. The system was also designed with additional treatment capacity to handle 30% growth in business and the resulting impact that would have on the treatment system. Although we did not pursue BOD in our treatment approach, we did discuss how we would determine viable treatment technologies to address it.
A food products company that mixes various types of waxes and other components to make the base for chewing gums was faced with the issue of cleaning up a slightly odorous, visible emission being exhausted from two of their process lines. The components of the emission were hot particles of chewing gum and some volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). The particles would quickly clog a conventional filter system or electrostatic precipitator, neither of which could control the odor off the process line. In addition to the emission problem, the condensation of the exhaust stream was damaging the roof of the facility.
After thorough technical evaluation, the Self-Cleaning Ceramic Filter (SCCF) was recommended as the ideal solution for processing the exhaust and Anguil Environmental Systems was selected to solve the visual, odor and VOC problem.
In order to demonstrate to the client that this was a viable solution, Anguil utilized their portable self-cleaning ceramic filter test unit before any purchase decisions were made. During the test, the process lines were run through the ceramic filter in two modes, hot and cold.
First, the system was run in the hot mode with a gas burner firing continuously at 400º-500ºF heating up the process air. The once visible plume disappeared as it passed through the ceramic filter and catalyst module. Second, the ceramic filter was used without heat, and again, the visible plume disappeared as it passed through the ceramic filter and catalyst module. Twenty-four hours of production were run across the ceramic filter without heat and the visible emission was acceptable from a customer and environmental regulation standpoint. However, when utilizing a cold process stream, particulate matter accumulated on the ceramic filter which had to be periodically cleaned by firing the burner. When the cleaning cycle began after the two shifts, a dense white plume was emitted for 90 seconds while the filter element was burned clean. The customer, a food products company, felt that this emission level was not acceptable so they decided the continuous hot running ceramic filter would better fit their needs. It should be noted that for certain operations with visible emissions, the pulse cleaning mode may be acceptable. Many local authorities allow companies to discharge up to five minutes per hour without control.
After the customer determined that the ceramic filter would solve their problems, Anguil proceeded to manufacture and install a 1,000 SCFM (1,577 Nm3/Hr) ceramic filter unit. The unit was used to process the exhaust from two process lines. One of the more significant benefits to the company was Anguil’s ability to reduce the air volume from the processes. Initially, the two gum-based mixers each had a 3,000 SCFM (4,731 Nm3/Hr) high volume, low static pressure fan that was exhausting to atmosphere. Tight covers on the mixers minimized the escape of odor into the mixing room. With the close capture hoods it was possible to reduce the air volume from 6,000 SCFM (9,462 Nm3/Hr) exhaust to 1,000 SCFM (1,577 Nm3/Hr) exhaust from the two process lines. The net air volume reduction of 82% reduced both the capital cost and the operating cost of the system.
In order to guarantee continuous production in the event of a burner failure, Anguil installed a bypass equipped with conventional roughing filters. The exhaust fan was equipped with an inlet vane control to vary the air volume if only one process line was being used. The control panel was outfitted with a user-friendly PLC first out detection system. The entire ceramic filter system was mounted in a light-weight enclosure to allow for roof mounting without significant structural modifications to the building. Growth capacity was accommodated in the gas burner and the fan section, allowing for the addition of future operations. Anguil’s system engineering provided their client with a solution to their compliance needs at reduced air volume and reduced cost.
For its first two years of production, a food manufacturer based in South Wales, England, focused its production on potatoes. Neighborhood residents voiced no complaints about odors during this time period. However, as new production lines (including barbequed meats and curried chicken) were added, the complaints began, and it became clear that odor abatement equipment was needed to resolve the issue.
Onsite meetings were held to discuss the issue, concerned citizens and the local environmental health officer attended to discuss the best way to handle the situation. The company employs a large percentage of the local residents, and was concerned about maintaining good community relationships, while at the same time it was in need of a building expansion to introduce a new line of curried chicken products. Planning approval became contingent upon the installation of an odor abatement system to control the new and existing odors.
The two-year old factory had been designed to incorporate emission control equipment, and management was committed to installing the most effective technology available. After a thorough technical evaluation, Anguil Environmental Systems, Inc. was selected and contracted to address the odor emission problem and satisfy the building expansion requirements.
Although several odor control technologies were discussed — including masking sprays, wet scrubbing, bio-filtration, carbon absorption and catalytic and thermal oxidation — the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) was the only technology that could guarantee the elimination of 99% of the odorous compounds.
Since future production may produce different odors, it was necessary that the installed technology have the ability to treat a wide range of odorous compounds to a high level of removal/destruction – guaranteed. Although, the guarantee of nearly complete elimination of the odors was the primary concern, capital and running costs were also of utmost importance. The RTO was selected due to its low operating costs and the fact that no waste is produced as a byproduct of its functioning.
Following the installation of the RTO, the results were dramatic, and as promised nearly all of the odors have been eliminated. Due to its well-designed odor control strategy, Anguil resolved the odor emission problem, thereby resolving potential community relations/environmental issues, and meeting its requirements for obtaining planning approval for future expansions.
After purchasing a new Barth roaster for their East coast processing facility, a nationally known chocolate roaster company knew their emissions and odors would need to be addressed with the increase in production.
Emissions and odors from the bean roasting process have traditionally been treated with an afterburner which simply burns the roaster exhaust with natural gas or other fuel types. This is an effective means of air pollution control but not very economical or energy-efficient. Rising fuels costs and the sustainability concerns prompted this company to find a more energy-efficient, cost-effective means of emission destruction.
Recognizing the need for a better solution within the industry, Anguil developed a dependable system that not only accounts for the unique needs of this application but also achieves environmental compliance at a fraction of the operating cost. Expected savings for a four bag roaster can be seen in the illustration below.
|Air Flow Rate||Fuel Cost / Hr||Savings Per Hour|
|2,500 SCFM (4,012.5 Nm3/hr)||$ 41.30||$ 4.50||$ 36.80|
|5,000 SCFM (8,025 Nm3/hr)||$ 81.14||$ 6.71||$ 74.43|
|7,500 SCFM (12,037.5 Nm3/hr)||$ 120.96||$ 8.91||$ 112.05|
|10,000 SCFM (16,050 Nm3/hr)||$ 160.80||$ 11.11||$ 149.69|
Anguil recommended an 8,000 SCFM (12,840 Nm3/hr) Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) to handle the Barth roaster, nip grinder and alkalizer at this facility.
With the two-bed RTO, contaminated process gas is preheated as it passes through beds of ceramic media located in the energy recovery chambers. The process gas moves from the pre-heated chamber toward the combustion chamber, where the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are oxidized, releasing energy into the second energy recovery chamber before going to atmosphere. A diverter valve switches the process gas direction so both energy recovery beds are fully utilized, providing 95% thermal efficiency thereby reducing auxiliary fuel requirements. Under normal operating conditions the unit is self-sustaining, requiring no fuel use to achieve destruction. This energy-efficient design offers significantly lower operating costs in comparison to other emission treatment methods common bean roasting facilities.
Water vapor was a major concern during the design phase of this project and therefore provisions were taken to handle the high moisture airstream coming from the roaster. Not only is water a bi-product of bean roasting but it is also added for flavor and sterilization purposes, if precautions were not taken it could have caused system components to seize during freezing weather, accelerated corrosion of carbon steel parts or even oxidizer shutdowns during high production times. Anguil engineers recommended a knock out drum with removal pump just upstream of the RTO. Modifications were also made to the fresh air damper to introduce less water vapor and portions of the ductwork were insulated to prevent freezing.
Special consideration was given to the RTO ceramic media to account for any particulate in the airstream, ensuring proper operation. The oxidizer also has a bake-out feature which works much like the self-cleaning feature on a stove. Organic particulate is regularly burned out during a high temperature cycle, this ensures that the media does not plug, reduces pressure drop and lowers electrical consumption.
In addition to the emission and odor control equipment, Anguil provided a 7,000 SCFM (11,235 Nm3/hr) Plate Heat Exchanger and corresponding duct work. This sends approximately 1.5 BTU/hr of waste heat from the RTO exhaust stack to a make-up air unit on the roof, saving the company over $80,000 a year in plant heating costs during winter months. On similar applications, Anguil has returned waste heat back to the roasters which further reduces natural gas consumption and operating costs.
The company has purchased two similar systems from Anguil for facilities in other regions of the United States. The projects have resulted in environmental compliance, lower operating costs and fewer greenhouse gas emissions for the bean roasting company at all three plants.