Case Study

Potato Chips In Peru? Headworks Solves A Multinational Food & Beverage Company's Space And Effluent Quality Challenges

Potato Chips In Peru

Although industry only accounts for 20% of water consumption globally (vs. 70% for agriculture and 10% for domestic consumption), most multinational industrial companies are now focused on ensuring they provide effective environmental management wherever they are in the world.  Especially in the consumer food business, environmental stewardship has become a must.  Multi-national food processors like Unilever, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo and others have made water sustainability a key focus in all their operations with goals that call for maximizing reuse of wastewater and ensuring anything that is discharged meets corporate standards regardless of the local regulations.

When Tecca Engineering & Operations, a major design, build operator in South America, called us to discuss a challenging problem, we knew right away that we could offer the best solution.  Tecca’s client, a major multi-national snack foods manufacturing company with a location in Lima, Peru, wanted to expand their plant by adding a new potato chip line.  At the same time, they wanted to significantly increase the use of recycled water flow at the plant and reduce the consumption of water through conservation efforts. This meant that although the overall wastewater flow would stay the same even with the increased production, the organics and solids (BOD & TSS) loads in the wastewater would double.

There was an existing wastewater treatment system at the site, but it was already overloaded even prior to the expansion.  The combined effluent from the plant went first through an oil and grease removal system and a primary lamella clarifier to remove solids.  From there, it went to a trickling filter for BOD reduction after which the original design was for discharge to the city sewer.  Given that the city’s system could not handle the wastewater load, the client had resorted to transporting wastewater offsite for treatment to meet effluent guidelines.  This increased the plant’s operating costs substantially.  The customer wanted to stop transporting the wastewater as well as treat the additional loadings generated by the expansion with an upgraded treatment system.

Another challenge was the limited space.  A total space of 40 feet x 20 feet (12 m x 6 m) was made available for the wastewater treatment system upgrade.  There was a requirement to include access space of 3.25 feet (1 m) on all four sides, essentially leaving 590 ft2 (55 m2) in which any changes to the overall process had to be incorporated. 

When Tecca contacted vendors of other technologies, Headworks Bio was the only company to offer the solution to meet space, treatment efficiency and budget requirements.  The new plant utilized the existing system and added an MBBR (Moving Bed Bio Reactor) at the end to achieve the treatment goals.  The overall design capacity for the facility is 380,000 gal/day (1440 m3/day) with a BOD of 950 mg/l.  This had to be treated to <350 mg/l BOD to meet discharge requirements to the city sewer.  The MBBR effluent is then processed through a DAF unit to meet TSS requirements.

The MBBR treatment system supplied by Headworks was installed and started-up in early 2016.   Headworks provided the process design and equipment for the MBBR system.  The system utilizes 130 m3 of the high-efficiency ActiveCell™ 920 biofilm carrier (media) which provides high levels of treatment in a small volume. 

Moreover, the customer was impressed with the robustness of the biofilm to toxic shocks and highly variable flows as well as the ability of the biofilm to shrink and grow depending on the load variations. Ms. Ana Paulina Forero, Regional Manager Peru & Ecuador for Tecca said, “We had very little space to expand the treatment capacity for the increased production.  The MBBR system supplied by Headworks exceeded our expectations in meeting the effluent objectives within a very small footprint.” 

Another important advantage of the MBBR technology is easy expandability.  With this in mind, Headworks designed the system with an initial media fill fraction of 50%.  This can be increased up to 70%, providing 40% flexibility built-in capacity for future requirements.  Additional media, up to 70% fill fraction, can simply be added when required to realize the capacity increase.

Headworks MBBR technology offers excellent solutions for treating high BOD industrial or municipal effluents in a small footprint.  The self-regulating nature of the process allows it to handle variable loads and flows in a stable manner. As industry worldwide looks to implement advanced treatment for wastewater applications, Headworks has the solution to a wide variety of industrial and municipal needs.  Looking to improve your wastewater reuse or quality?  Contact the process engineers at Headworks International or +1-713-647-6667 or your local manufacturers' representative.  We are here to serve you with quality and a focus on efficiency.