Multiple benefits of environmentally friendly water disinfection

One of the world’s most advanced hydro-optic disinfection (HOD) water treatment technologies is being used by Australian food manufacturer SPC Ardmona to curtail chlorine dioxide use at its biggest processing plant.

The environmentally friendly process that leaves no disinfection by-products has been installed at Shepparton by Cleanteq for Eimco Water Technologies, which is part of the global group GLV Inc, master distributor for Atlantium out-of-the-water UV disinfection systems for the treatment of water and wastewater used in industrial and municipal processes.

The new technology, which won the 2007 International Institute of Food Technologists Award, being cited for its innovation, technical advancement, scientific merit and its benefit to food manufacturers in its materials handling and cleaning operations, is used by SPC Ardmona on wash down water for food processing equipment and on water used to convey up to 1000 tons of produce over 24 hours.

Major health, safety and maintenance benefits have been achieved by the option of not having to store and handle large quantities of chemicals, as well as enhancing process water purity and reducing potential corrosion of machinery affected by chlorine, said SPC Ardmona maintenance supervisor, Mick Williams.

“The technology is integral to our commitment to being clean and green,” explained Williams, whose company is part of the Coca Cola Amatil group, which uses the Atlanium technology at other plants in Australia and internationally, including plants in Israel, USA, Spain and Russia.

Making the move

According to Williams, “by changing to the out-of-water UV system, the use of chemicals was removed, causing a valuable flow-on with reduced chemical storage on-site, reduced movement of chemicals, a reduction in the risk of spills, reduced chemical handling and reduced risk from handling chemicals.

“There were also immediate maintenance and process water purity benefits when we applied the technology to our three megalitre storage tank, from which we draw town supply water that arrives chlorinated at four parts per million.

“When we were adding chlorine dioxide, we were having corrosion issues with cooking equipment. Now the chlorine issue seems to have abated, even though we are still drawing chlorinated town water. The water treated with HOD just stays clear and clean. You can now stand at the top of the big indoor tank with a torch and see the bottom clearly when you shine it down.”

Williams explained that the company “made the move to HOD technology because our chlorine dioxide dosing plant was at the end of its accurate working life and required replacement. This created an opportunity to upgrade and the new system we chose has completely lived up to our expectations in its first year of service, performing reliably and making it particularly simple to budget CIP (cleaning in place) and lock in maintenance costs each year.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

Atlantium’s innovative HOD technology unlocks the power of UV light’s environmentally friendly disinfection capabilities and shifts the paradigm from conventional in-the-water mercury lamps to having the lamps out of the water.

Innovative features of Atlantium’s HOD systems include:

  • The large quartz tube that acts as an effective light trap, using the concept of “total internal reflection” (the same phenomenon used in fiber-optic cables). This creates a uniform distribution of the UV light throughout the system’s cross-section to achieve high levels of micro-organism inactivation;
  • Dual-controlled sensors that independently monitor system performance, ensuring the light intensity matches specific customer requirements, and allowing customers to adjust the dosage based on the water’s flow rate and UV transmissivity;
  • The compact design provides for simple maintenance, with negligible reactor cleaning, near zero downtime, low energy consumption and easy installation and retrofit;
  • The technology eliminates the mechanical and thermal drawbacks of immersed lamp designs, separating the electrical mechanism from the wet chamber and reducing the possibility of sleeves fouling; and
  • The lamp out of water design eliminates the product risks involved with lamp breakages.

The installation used by SPC Ardmona constantly circulates water through the HOD, which is always switched on with a flow rate of 150m3/hr, water UVT (ultra-violet transmittance) of 92-94% and UV dose of 90mJ/cm2. It supplies water to the plant’s cooling towers, as well as being used in fruit processing machinery, including peaches, pears, apricots and apples. It is also used in beans and spaghetti blanching processes, and supplies water used to clean equipment such as autoclaves/pressure cookers, as well as being used with steam in cleaning of tin cans and plastic bottles.

CIP maintenance was conducted weekly for the first year of use of the system. “We may trial planned shutdowns in the future, but because the water is drawn from the tank 24/7, it just stays on at peak times of the year,” explained Williams.

“The technology is less expensive than chlorine units and highly effective and reliable. There is no need to be calling technicians out at more than $100 an hour plus accommodation and meals and it is well backed with service. When we were setting up, we had Atlantium in as soon as there were any programming or setup issues to address. They were very quick off the mark.”

Eimco Water Technologies regional sales manager, Paul Keegan, said that Atlantium Technologies’ chemical-free process can replace traditional disinfection methods, such as chlorine, ozone and pasteurization.

“This ground-breaking technology has already been adopted by some of the world’s leading food and beverage manufacturers including major Australian companies.

“The global range of applications is already very broad with the food, beverage and aquaculture industries being among the first to realize its value. This technology is eminently suited to Australia, where it will offer a breakthrough solution for primary disinfection.”

Atlantium’s solutions provide complete sustained microbe inactivation, are environmentally friendly and have no disinfection by-products. They are also extremely cost-effective and can provide a rapid return on investment. Consumers benefit too, as using HOD to disinfect process and product water results in healthier, tastier food, free of chemicals and disinfection by-products, and extends the food’s shelf life.

According to the jurors at the 2007 International Institute of Food Technologist’s Award, Atlantium’s HOD solution “is an advance in the use of UV light to disinfect water. The technology seems to address shadows, which until now has been a major limitation of the use of UV. This technology may lead to advancements of UV sterilization with other liquids and has a “novel technological approach with hydraulics and optics; addresses two large areas of consumer concern: food safety and environment sustainability.”

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