Peristaltic pump tackles troublesome pH at Greencore 06 October 2010

Food manufacturer Greencore is reporting "significant savings" in downtime and repair costs on water treatment plant at its site in Selby, North Yorkshire, thanks to a high pressure peristaltic hose pump.

Peter Wadsworth, craft technician at United Utilities, explains that the plant produces sauces, pickles and soft drinks to the tune of 250 million jars pa across 500 product lines – so the cleaning and changeover process results in a small quantity of liquid waste that can move pH from 4 up to 12.

Until recently, pH levels at Selby were corrected using 32% caustic soda through the facility's water treatment plant (owned and operated by United Utilities), with Greencore responsible for consumable costs.

"The Greencore Grocery facility is a high volume plant where there can be between 10 and 26 washouts a day, depending on order schedules," says Wadsworth.

"So, to find a more cost effective method of correcting the pH in the processing machinery, we trialled a product called Mag Mex 1060… We started off using fairly cheap and cheerful dosing pumps, but this proved to be inefficient as we spent two days a week repairing them," he adds.

The problem was that, because magnesium hydroxide has low solubility in water, it makes a fairly abrasive fluid. "We found the grit would attack the mechanical seals and drain plugs on the dosing pumps, thus requiring repair," recalls Wadsworth.

Following good experience of peristaltic pumps from Watson-Marlow at one of United Utilities' sister sites, he says, a Bredel SPX50 high pressure peristaltic hose pump (50mm diameter) was installed and, since then, there have been no abrasion issues.

"Any downtime in an operation of this magnitude can be very costly," comments Wadsworth, "so I'm sure the pump paid for itself extremely quickly. In fact we are going to trial an identical pump on site for sludge transfer between tanks."

Brian Tinham

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