Utilities are rarely the focus of attention in industrial production, but without them very little would be possible. At the same time, utilities offer enormous potential for liquid analysis measuring technology.
What is actually meant by the term utilities?
One possible definition is that utilities form part of the plant as a service to production, but not part of the core manufacturing process. Water is one of the most important raw materials for industrial production. It is needed in the production of almost every single product in use on a daily basis. Industrial plants producing anything from chemicals, oil and gas to food and beverages, all need vast amounts of water.
Water in utilities involves the various auxiliary processes that go into the provisioning of process water, boiler feedwater, steam, cooling water or wastewater. Of the mentioned processes, steam generation has the highest costs associated with it, and therefore the most potential for savings.
As a rule, water needs to be treated before it’s introduced into a process, to ensure water quality and compliance to the specifications of the industrial process. There is a strong demand for facilities to recycle and reuse wastewater, for financial, legal and regulatory reasons. By reusing water in industrial processes businesses can decrease the amount of wastewater they produce and reduce the negative impact on the environment. Water recycling can also lower costs in regions where the price of potable water is high, or where water supply is unreliable. Recycling is one of the key ways to reduce water consumption since water can be reused many times over.
Inadequate water treatment and inferior water quality can critically impact equipment and products. Analytical measuring technology is therefore very important for utilities. While utilities may be ‘auxiliary processes’ they are in no way insignificant. Depending on the industry, utility applications account for a large portion of the liquid analysis instruments used in industrial water plants. A few examples from the food industry are illustrated below, but similar examples apply just as easily to other industries such as chemicals, mining etc. All these industries use vast quantities of water, which must be treated before and after it enters the core processes.
Water treatment in the food and beverage industry
The food industry requires high-quality water, which often exceeds drinking water quality standards. Whether it is used as product water, cooling water or for cleaning and hygiene – the importance of pure water in food production cannot be overemphasised.
The water quality often directly affects the quality of the product. In enzymatic processes, the pH value is a critical factor. For example, if the pH value of brewing water is too high, this adversely affects the taste and colour of beer. Minerals and residues dissolved in water impact processing, and cause deposit formation and corrosion on wetted parts. Corroded and lime-scaled piping systems encourage the build-up of dirt and microorganisms, and therefore the formation of biofilm. Water that is properly treated not only ensures high product quality, but also guarantees disturbance free operation and increases system reliability. Depending on the quality of the raw water and the requirements, water treatment is often a multi-step process. A variety of filters, ion exchangers, reverse osmosis and other treatment techniques are used to remove impurities and create purified water. Analytical measuring devices include:
• Condumax CLS16D to monitor conductivity as a key parameter for assessing water purity.
• Ceragel CPS71D to regulate the pH value.
• Turbimax CUS52D to check the efficiency of filtration processes.
Industrial wastewater treatment
Due to the volumes of wastewater produced and the variations in the load, particularly the pH value, wastewater needs to be treated both in the case of direct and indirect discharge. Direct dischargers usually have a biological treatment stage in addition to facilities for neutralisation, oil and grease removal (e.g. dissolved air flotation plants) and mixing and equalisation basins. In the case of indirect discharge, the wastewater treatment technology needed will depend on regulatory requirements (e.g. municipal codes and by-laws). As public wastewater treatment plants are often not designed for high loads, wastewater – such as produced in dairy processing – must be pre-treated through an in-house wastewater treatment facility before it is discharged. Analytical measuring devices include:
• pH measurement during neutralisation e.g. with CPS11D.
• Oxygen measurement during sludge activation with COS61D or COS51D.
• COD measurement in the outlet of indirect dischargers with CA80COD or CAS51D.
• TOC measurement with CA72TOC.
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