Leading global brewer buys its first HUBER MBR plant

The two VRM® 30 / 480 units during installation into the membrane chambers
The two VRM® 30 / 480 units during installation into the membrane chambers

With a sales volume of about 400 million hectolitres Anheuser-Busch InBev based in Löwen, Belgium, is the worldwide leading brewery group. The company is one of the five largest producers of consumer goods with about 114,000 employees working for them in more than 23 countries, 2,800 of them in Germany. Their portfolio includes 200 brands in more than 100 countries, among them are the global premium brands Beck’s, Stella Artois and Budweiser. With its products Anheuser-Busch InBev is number one or two in 19 key markets worldwide, in more than any other brewery group.

Planta Sur in Barrio Porteño de Pompeya in Buenos Aires is their largest production for lemonades, such as Pepsi, 7up, Mirinda, Paso de los Toros and waters of different flavours. A total production of 25,000 hectolitres is achieved with 10 bottling lines, these are 1.1 million units per day.

Increasing wastewater volumes and higher environmental standards forced InBev Planta Sur in 2011 to think about a new wastewater treatment solution. Besides, a part of their premises where their old wastewater treatment plant is installed has been declared a protected nature reserve as it lies very close to a river. They could therefore not build larger additional wastewater treatment systems to handle the high volume of meanwhile 1,440 m³/d but had to use mainly existing tanks.

It soon was clear that membrane technology would be the best available solution to meet environmental standards even on a small footprint. When the biological HUBER system was designed with a higher MLSS of 12 g/l and planning of the associated equipment units was completed it turned out that even the previous aeration tank volume of 1,590 m³ is sufficient and no substantial extension work was required.

The MBR solution has not only technological but also marketing advantages as InBev Planta Sur as a member in a support program of the Environmental Agency of Buenos Aires show that improved technologies and processes are not only a means to achieve more efficient and economical production but can also protect the environment. We prepared our offer in cooperation with our sales partner Serviur and submitted it to the end customer at the end of April 2011. We offered two VRM® 30 / 480 units, redundant permeate and recirculation pumps, blowers for scouring air and biological treatment and membrane aerators including equipment installation and commissioning. The customer finally placed the order with HUBER and Serviur at the beginning of August 2011. The total membrane surface of the HUBER system of 5760 m2 and its throughput of 60 m³/h provides for a net flux of 11.45 l/m²/h which can temporarily be doubled if service or cleaning work needs to be done. It was a special request of the customer that the VRM® 30 / 480 should be able to filter the total volume flow of 60 m3/h even during plant maintenance. Also the permeate pumps have therefore been designed to ensure 30 to 60 m³/h can be covered.

Another special feature of this project is that it is not possible to feed the VRM® chamber by gravity due to the low geodetic altitude and wide distance between the VRM® chamber and biological treatment system. The VRM® chamber is therefore fed from the three bio-tanks by means of the customer’s pumps and a distribution system. Also the flow from the VRM® chamber to the biological system is returned by pumps. These pumps have been supplied by HUBER.

The plant was installation and commissioned in January and February 2012 and soon achieved the required effluent quality. This project shows that customers rely on our extensive experience in the field of brewery wastewater treatment and adds another outstanding reference installation to our large number of reference projects.