SAB and Rhodes University treat waste water for re-use

SAB in partnership with Rhodes University has successfully treated brewery waste-water to standards suitable for re-use in irrigation and other secondary water uses using an environmentally sustainable approach.

SAB in partnership with Rhodes University has successfully treated brewery waste-water to standards suitable for re-use in irrigation and other secondary water uses using an environmentally sustainable approach.

This groundbreaking research, known as Project Eden, is a first for the South African brewing industry and may assist in the preservation of the country’s scarce water supply. The pilot plant site is based at SAB’s iBhayi Brewery in Port Elizabeth.

A team from Rhodes University’s Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science recovered water from brewery effluent using High Rate Algal Ponding (HRAP) and Constructed Wetland (CW) technology.

The water was successfully treated to water discharge standards using a pilot plant downstream of the brewery’s anaerobic digestion effluent treatment plant.

Water generated is currently only suitable for discharge into saline estuaries, namely the Swartkops River flowing nearby iBhayi Brewery, as it contains a concentration of chlorides. Further investment in the Project Eden plant to reduce the conductivity of the effluent post the Constructed Wetland, and reduce chloride concentrates, would result in the treated water meeting general discharge standards.

SAB is following all necessary municipal requirements and processes to discharge the treated effluent.

Additionally, hydroponic lettuce and fish were produced in the treated effluent as a bioassay of the treated water’s quality and further research into this is being conducted.

At least 0.15% of iBhayi Brewery’s total annual water use was treated during the pilot phase of Project Eden.

Plans are underway to upscale the Project Eden plant to treat 30% of iBhayi Brewery’s effluent and ultimately 100% of the water is to be treated depending on the success of the project.

All untreated effluent from the Brewery is discharged in the municipal effluent stream and treated at one of the municipality treatment plants.

Development of the pilot programme began at the end of 2008.

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