Because water is a key ingredient for beverage manufacturers, how it is treated and used is vital for quality reasons but also has a big impact on efficiency and overall cost of ownership.
David Bridgers, food and beverage business development manager at Siemens Water Technologies, told FoodProductionDaily.com that one of the main challenges for soft drink makers is determining what treatment strategy to employ for incoming water.
The quality of the source water is a major consideration but so is the nature of the products being manufactured. What level of treatment is needed will vary with the product that is handled.
Bridgers said carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) are the least demanding while purified drinking waters require the most treatment. Water must be thoroughly filtered to meet the limits for total dissolved solids and chloride set out for purified bottled water.
Other soft drinks have there own specific requirements. For example, the water used in ready to drink tea products must have a hardness level of less than about 25 parts per million to prevent them from turning cloudy. Energy drinks and other fortified beverages also need a higher water quality than CSDs.
Soft drink bottling plants that handle a variety of different products therefore face the challenge of designing a water treatment system able to cope with these differences.
A beverage plant making both bottled water and CSDs will have to decide whether to treat all its water to the highest standard required or to have a separate system to meet the more stringent controls for bottled water.
Bridgers said this is a scientific calculation that will depend largely on the volumes of the different products. There is also a decision to be made when it comes to the barrier system to install and how much water to push through it.
Membrane purification systems
Nano filtration and reverse osmosis are two of the more popular water treatment options.
Of the two membrane purification systems, Bridgers claimed that nano filtration does not remove quite so many contaminants as reverse osmosis (RO) but traditionally does not require so much pressure, and therefore energy. But he said there are now some low pressure RO systems that are helping to make RO a more popular solution than nanofiltration.
Another important consideration when deciding how to set up a water treatment system is how much water you are willing to push through it. If a company decides to put all its water through a membrane system good enough for bottled water processing then it must remember that this will shorten the life of the system.
After the initial decontamination stage water will often end up in storage to take peaks and troughs out of the processing system. Companies have to ensure that this water remains clean and face a number of options to do so including ozone, chlorination and UV treatment.
According to Bridgers, here there is some debate about the best option and again a lot depends on the end product. For example, ozone is very popular in bottled water but is not really suitable for CSDs as it can upset flavour.
For more information on water management, you may be interested in reading an earlier article that focused on improving water efficiency in food and drink processing. Please click here. Otherwise please enjoy reading the rest of our series this week on beverage processing.