The $120 million facility – engineered by CST Wastewater Solutions in partnership with Global Water Engineering (GWE) – has achieved all the high environmental performance targets set by Bluetongue Brewery owner Pacific Beverages – a SABMiller/Coca Cola Amatil joint venture.
Water to biogas
The brewery’s wastewater is sent to an anaerobic reactor, within which the biogas is generated.
The wastewater passes through several pre-treatment steps before entering a GWE ANUBIX-B anaerobic methane reactor in which the wastewater’s organic content is digested by bacteria in a closed reactor, degrading the compounds and converting them into biogas and cleaned effluent. Biogas from the process is collected and re-used as renewable energy to power the brewery’s boiler.Article continues below…
Treated effluent continues to an aerobic post-treatment stage in which organic content is further reduced by GWE’s proprietary MEMBROX Membrane Biological Reactor (MBR) system.
In the water polishing step, the water from the MBR unit is sent through a Reverse Osmosis (RO) installation. Finally, the effluent is led to a disinfection and storage unit, where the recycled water is kept for reuse applications.
GWE Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Ombregt claims that, on average, the removal efficiency of GWE’s anaerobic wastewater treatment installations is as high as 90-95 per cent, which easily brings the organic load down to regulatory discharge standards for most types of wastewater.
“The concept of using wastewater to create green energy is much more widely applicable than often realized. Any factory with a biological waste stream or wastewater with high COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) can easily use this model to generate energy,” says Mr Ombregt.
The anaerobic advantage
The installation at Bluetongue Brewery cuts the brewery’s carbon footprint by reducing its demand for fossil fuels and the electricity needs for wastewater treatment. The plant replaces the need for traditional methane-producing lagoons, and makes up for a reliance on power-consuming, sludge-producing aerobic wastewater treatment plants.
CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director Mike Bambridge says “This is a landmark achievement of water conservation and green energy production, achieved by combining the latest versions of advanced and reliable technologies available.
“It demonstrates the technology’s practicality for extensive use, not only throughout the Australian food and beverage sector – which involves more than 20,000 companies – but also globally.”
The plant was also finalist in two categories – Environmental and Heritage, and Products, Manufacturing, Facilities and Processes – at the 2011 Sydney Engineering Excellence Awards, held by Engineers Australia.