In 2012, a Coca-Cola production plant in Baltimore, Maryland, was using an outdated water treatment process. The process consisted of direct filtration by deep sand beds, an activated carbon treatment, and a final ultra violet treatment. The deterioration of the Baltimore City municipal distribution channels resulted in the addition of both ferrous and ferric iron into the source water – an occurrence that the outdated treatment method was not equipped to handle. Thus, the plant experienced inconvenient downtimes 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.
Becoming an industry leader in water recovery became a high priority for Coca-Cola Baltimore. As such, the plant did not wish to limit its operational upgrade to Coca-Cola’s minimum corporate-mandated water recovery rate. SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions provided an Ultra-Low Energy (ULE) RO system to meet this priority. The Baltimore facility consists of two Activated Carbon towers, two Greensand filters and three ULE RO machines; two primary and one recovery. SUEZ’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 gallons per minute (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%, the Baltimore Coca-Cola production plant is now the highest 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 SUEZ, Coca-Cola Baltimore achieved its goal of becoming an industry leader in water recovery. SUEZ continues to work with the plant to further increase their overall plant efficiency through RO flush and filter backwash modifications.