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2017 Master Brewers Conference
88. Stop the water from the drain—Reuse of water in breweries

Jeff VanVoorhis, Symbiont Science, Engineering and Construction, Inc., West Allis, WI, U.S.A.


The use of water at breweries has become a more prominent KPI for the management of overall facility efficiencies. Most breweries use 3–4 times more water than the total volume of product packaged for consumption. A significant effort has been put forth to reduce water consumption and "wasting" water throughout the process. Most facilities have repaired infrastructure, added flow meters to track water usage, and implemented water reduction projects. The remaining water use reduction projects may require significant capital but provide very little impact on overall water use. Some of the water savings projects would include optimizing CIP cycles. Many times the duration of water rinses during the CIP are extensive and do not provide any improvement on the cleaning of the equipment. Many locations will look at reclaiming the final rinse water on CIP cycles to be reused as a first rinse. This can be a significant savings of water. Another option is to recycle water for multiple uses within the brewery. Most utility water does not require the same quality of process water. The first part of this presentation will identify the water quality for specific utility uses within the brewery. Key parameters of concern for utilities include: temperature, conductivity, TDS, BOD, and pH. Once the water quality requirements have been identified, a water map can be created to show the utility water demand by location, volume, and quality for the entire facility. This map can then be used to identity lower water quality users that could reuse high-quality water sent to drain. One example is collecting vacuum pump seal water or container rinse water for use in cooling tower makeup. After reuse options within the facility are exhausted, the process wastewater can also be treated for utility reuse applications. The level of treatment will vary based upon the water quality needs. Symbiont has prepared mass balances to estimate the necessary level of treatment of wastewater to meet the various utility water characteristics. In doing this, a variety of treatment processes were reviewed. One common application is to utilize membranes for treatment of wastewater for cooling tower make up. Symbiont has completed bench-scale and pilot-scale treatment of process wastewater using a variety of membrane sizes (UF, NF, RO). This testing has shown that not all process wastewater requires RO treatment for reuse. As a result, the capital and operations cost of tertiary treatment for reuse as utility water can meet the ROI hurdle for project approval.

Jeff Van Voorhis has more than 20 years of experience in wastewater treatment for the food and beverage industries. He has served as project manager for a variety of large- and small-scale projects and is knowledgeable of all phases of projects beginning with waste characterization and permitting through design, construction, and start-up. Mr. Van Voorhis also incorporates renewable energy utilization into his projects whenever feasible. Mr. Van Voorhis received his B.S. degree in civil engineering (environmental emphasis) from Purdue University and his MBA from Marquette University.

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