How a process water filtration solution using self cleaning screen filters saved this meat rendering facility $100,000 p/a

Queensland meat rendering facility A.J. Bush & Sons recycles meat and poultry by-products from butchers, meat processors and abattoirs, processing around four million kilograms of animal waste each week.

The company is aware of the environmental and economic impact it has on handling such volumes of waste and have been dedicated to reducing their carbon emissions. They’ve achieved this through the capture of biogas from onsite anaerobic lagoons, generating 25% of the plant’s electricity and replacing the need for natural gas.

They’ve seen a 50% reduction in coal consumption by installing custom made, energy-efficient boilers. The coal-fuelled boilers provide steam used to break down the animal waste before processing. The water used for this steam needs to be of the highest quality, as minerals in the water can produce scaling in the boiler. Scaling impacts the boiler’s efficiency, requiring an increase in power to provide the same amount of steam, leading to an increase in costs for the company.

To achieve the quality of steam required, the water must first pass through a Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit. Reverse Osmosis is the tightest possible membrane process in liquid separation. It has the ability to reject both suspended and dissolved material, including minerals. Only water molecules can pass freely through the membrane, creating a purified stream. It is this purified water that is used in the boilers to prevent scaling.

To maximise the life and runtime of the RO unit, prefiltration is employed in the form of cartridge filters, to remove as much sediment as possible from the water prior to it reaching the unit. As the water into the plant comes from a river source, it often contains large amounts of sediment, which clog up the prefiltration system quickly.

The facility had an ongoing issue with replacing prefilter cartridges. During periods of high sediment loadings in the feed water supply to the RO plant, the prefilter cartridges were needing to be replaced on a daily basis. This came at a significant cost to the company.

Our solution was to install an Autofine AF3-80 automatic self cleaning screen filtration unit with a 6 micron screen prior to the RO prefilters. This would significantly decrease the amount of sediment getting through to the cartridge filters. The life span of the cartridges increased by 10 times, delivering huge savings on consumables and increasing efficiencies in production output.

“The outcome has been fantastic!”, the plant’s site process engineer explained. “We have more uptime on the plant and a payback period on investment of just 6 months.”

The installation of the Autofine self-cleaning screen filters means that the cartridge filters only need to be replaced approximately every fortnight rather than daily. It has delivered estimated cost savings of over $100,000 per year, as well as contributing to the plant’s emission reduction goals.

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