Improving ETP performance for a plant-based F&B manufacturer

Food and Beverage
Operations and Maintenance
Plant based yoghurt in a bowl with spoon

In 2022, a leading plant-based food and beverage manufacturer approached us for help to turn around performance at one of their underperforming effluent treatment plants (ETP), which was experiencing regular overflow events that led to high tankering costs and put them at risk of non-compliance.

To establish the root causes of the issues leading to underperformance and overflow events, Alpheus deployed a team of technical experts to conduct detailed analysis, working with the onsite process operator who provided monitoring, sampling, and trend data.

This enabled us to create a detailed plan to address issues and optimise performance of the plant.

Alpheus Delivered

Alpheus Delivered


Our client sought an experienced operations and maintenance provider that could identify and resolve issues and inefficiencies at the effluent treatment plant to turnaround poor performance of their effluent treatment plant to:

  • Reduce downtime
  • Ensure compliance
  • Reduce operating costs

The approach involved:

  • Taking on management and operation of the site for 5-days a week by providing an experienced on-site operator.
  • Using Alpheus’s technical team to investigate issues and identify underperforming areas.
  • Following a recovery process to resolve the underperforming areas identified.
Membrane system on wastewater treatment plant

Services provided

Our initial analysis identified three interlinked areas that needed urgent resolution to start the recovery process. These were:

  • Underperforming Ultrafiltration that was causing backup in the system
  • Poor DAF performance caused by ineffective chemistry
  • High Food to Mass (F/M) ratio in reactors, which caused excessive foaming due to filamentous bacteria build up and led to membrane underperformance and high energy costs

Our on-site team concentrated on the membrane performance, while our technical team working with the process operator concentrated on optimising DAF chemistry and bioreactor F/M ratios to ensure a stable process was achieved. Rectifying both of these root causes would ensure that the biological stage of the plant was optimised for improved nitrification and overall plant performance.

In addition to 5 days’ treatment plant management per week, the services provided included:

  • Intensive cleaning of fouled membranes, and establishment of a proactive and preventive cleaning and maintenance schedule.
  • Optimisation of DAF performance to ensure minimal solids entering the reactors.
  • Maintaining a stable biomass in the reactors to prevent excessive solids entering the membranes to retain efficiency and lengthen lifespan of the membranes.
  • Significant improvements to membrane performance via optimisation of the Cleaning In Place (CIP) programme.
  • Establishing daily communication and regular meetings between factory team and treatment plant team to understand changes and issues that could impact the effluent treatment plant.

The Outcome

Following the investigation and optimisation process, our operations and maintenance team were able to recover performance without the need for costly membrane replacement, with the following results:

  • Over 75% improvement in the permeability of membranes, as a result of an extensive recovery cleaning programme and introduction of a proactive cleaning regime.
  • 25% reduction in energy consumption as a result of the membrane improvements, CIP and DAF optimisations. In turn, this should lengthen the lifespan of assets as the desired flow rate can now be achieved with fewer membrane banks and DAF optimisations.
  • More effective chemical usage as a result of DAF optimisations.
  • 50% reduction in tanker waste disposal costs as a result of ensuring stability of the biomass through effective monitoring and management  of the food to mass
  • Elimination of overflow risk and compliance assured.

UF membrane recovery process

  • The membranes were opened up so that the fouling could be analysed.
  • Following testing on the solids the most suitable cleaning in place (CIP) regime was developed, using specialist knowledge and insight.
  • Intensive cleaning  of the fouled membranes along with checking automatic backflush and cleaning settings and parameters were correct, operational, and optimised.
  • Critical automatic cleaning settings were updated while the membranes were in operation to ensure the recovery plan had the best results.
  • A proactive routine cleaning regime was then developed and carefully followed to ensure improvements continued to be achieved as the fouled membranes improved.

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