A Coca-Cola production plant in Eastern USA was using an outdated water treatment process. The process consisted of direct filtration by deep sand beds, activated carbon treatment, and ultra-violet sterilization. The deterioration of the city’s municipal distribution channels resulted in the increase of both ferrous and ferric iron into the source water – an occurrence that the outdated treatment method was not equipped to handle.
Due to this increase in raw water contaminant, the plant experienced frequent downtime and stalls in production. To remedy the situation, the plant decided to upgrade its water treatment process to one that would be able to treat source water of any quality.
As for all players in the beverage industry, water conservation was a high priority for Coca-Cola. As such, the plant did not wish to limit its operational upgrade to the minimum mandated water recovery rate and wanted to implement a solution that would position themselves as industry leaders.
Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions provided an Ultra-Low Energy (ULE) Reverse Osmosis (RO) system to meet this objective. The updated water treatment facility consists of two activated carbon towers, two greensand filters and three ULE RO machines (two primary and one recovery). Veolia’s ULE
system has been proven to provide high water recovery rates, with the added economic benefit from lower energy usage rates.
At the time of the RO upgrade, the rate of system efficiency was approximately 85%. The initial design recovery rates were 80% for the primary RO’s and 65% for the recovery RO (RRO). By using the InSight* Pro remote plant monitoring service to monitor and optimize the system, recovery
rates were gradually increased to 88.5% and 91.5%, respectively. The increases were done over a 1.5-year period in order to protect membrane integrity. These recovery rate increases resulted in concentrate flow reductions from 65 gpm to 30 gpm on the primary RO’s and 50 gpm to 10 gpm on the RRO.
With an RO system efficiency of approximately 93%, this Coca-Cola production plant was, at the time of writing, the most water efficient site among all of the company’s beverage facilities in North America. An estimated 6 million gallons of water are saved per year due to the equipment upgrade and process optimization.
Limitations when testing for recovery improvements caused the enhancement process to be a long one. However, with the support of Veolia, Coca-Cola achieved its goal of becoming an industry leader in water recovery. Veolia continues to work with the plant to further increase their overall plant efficiency by leveraging its overall portfolio of technologies and industry expertise.