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Brewing Wastewater Treatment

Water is a critical issue for breweries of every size. Not only in terms of product—it takes eight pints of water to make one pint of beer—but also for activities such as cleaning and other processes related to beer production.

Everything about brewing involves water. Water is needed to irrigate hops, to maintain sanitary conditions, to wash fermentation tanks and barrels, presses and crushing equipment. Everything needs to be cleaned using water at some point, and almost everything needs to be cleaned every day of operation.

This useful water generates a tremendous amount of wastewater, which often has very high levels of Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). These must be treated or disposed of cost effectively.

Forward-thinking breweries will not only consider water to be a resource and a source of cost, but also an opportunity to improve their bottom line. 

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Our experts recommend: reduce wastewater TSS and cut discharge fees

BOD and TSS are both very significant issues that breweries face in their wastewater. While typical domestic wastewater has a BOD and TSS of about 150 mg/L, brewery wastewater can have a BOD of 10,000 mg/L and a TSS of 5,000 mg/L.

High TSS levels in brewery effluent can lead to significant discharge fees. In some locations, this may be a reasonable cost of doing business, but in other places this water cost can make or break an operational budget. Further, sending large volumes of high TSS wastewater to a sewer system has the potential to completely overwhelm municipal treatment plants, making disposal a potentially very serious issue.

The main sources of TSS in a brewery are things like spent hops and grains and yeast that are washed into wastewater during operations, equipment cleaning and clean in place (CIP) activities. 

While conventional screening systems typically remove solids with particle sizes of 500 microns and larger, ultrafine screening systems can remove solids as fine as 100 microns and can be further buoyed by DAF treatment downstream. This provides a significant reduction in a brewery’s wastewater TSS—which translates into a reduction in effluent discharge fees.

Our experts recommend: cut aeration costs with improved screening

The most common way to reduce soluble BOD is aeration. However, many aeration systems can be expensive to operate, with the electrical costs of blowers or compressors rapidly eating away at profitability—and if an aeration system is clogged with solids then breweries are paying more simply to get the same performance.

Reducing TSS before it enters aeration systems maintains processing capacity and prevents these increasing energy costs from hitting the bottom line. Improved screening of inorganics can capture and remove those solids upstream to preserve your capacity and keep your energy costs down.

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