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Water Systems

Sustainable Designs for Water Systems

Sustainable food plant design and operation requires the thoughtful application of water supply and drainage systems. Using the proper amount of water for cleaning, along with efficient water heating systems will reduce your overall water consumption and energy usage.

The primary factor in designing for waste reduction is not only to take into consideration the efficiency with which natural resources are converted, but also the total consumption of the natural resources. For example, a low-pressure water cleaning system may be an efficient means for using water for cleaning, however total water consumption might be reduced if a high-pressure system were implemented.  

Water Drainage

Food processing facilities produce a copious amount of wastewater that must be drained and conveyed out of the facility. Our design team understands the need to remove water resulting from production, clean-up, and other facility activities.

Floor Drains

Floor drains vary in design and purpose, so they must be chosen and placed appropriately for proper function. Food Plant Engineering’s design team knows how to space drains in your facility, what materials can hold up to foot/equipment traffic, and which drain types can endure the temperature and pressure of your cleaning methods. We can help you answer questions such as:

  • Should you choose stainless steel, cast iron, or composite drain materials?
  • Where is it appropriate to use an area/point drain, a trench drain, or a slot drain?
  • How can you plan for the location of hub drains when you need an indirect drain for your equipment?
  • Which options will best hold up to acid/corrosive waste streams or cleaning chemicals?
  • What drains are the least likely to contain harborage points for listeria and other pathogens?

Sewer Lines

The materials, layout, and sizing of a facility’s sewer system must be properly evaluated for each food processing operation. The sewer pipe material should be selected to handle the sanitation chemicals, wastewater temperature, wastewater acidity, and physical cleaning methods employed (e.g., hydro-jetting and snaking). Options such as PVC, CPVC, and stainless steel should be considered depending on operational needs.

The layout of the process sewer system must specify the spacing of each drain along the floor surface for proper drainage sloping. In addition, a proper venting system must be designed to prevent air or vapor locks from occurring in the process sewer system and restricting flow. The slope should also allow for full drainage flow in the pipes. Sanitary and process sewers must be kept separate in a food processing facility with no connections inside the building.

Water Supply

A food facility’s water supply system is critical for hygienic facility operation. These systems supply ingredient water, cleaning water, hand wash water, or cooling water to the plant. In addition, many plants now have a central supply system for sanitation chemicals. Food Plant Engineering’s team knows the ins and outs of these specialized systems. We understand what piping materials, insulation, and jacketing are appropriate, as well as how to properly rout and place the lines.

Pipe Materials

Many piping materials are available for water and sanitation waste, and the selection depends on the specific needs of each operation. Copper is commonly used for both cold and hot water supply systems. Stainless steel is also an option for water with slightly corrosive properties.

PVC and CPVC for water supply should be used on a limited basis and only with proper supports. However, both PVC and stainless steel can be used for the supply of sanitizer and detergents when a central chemical delivery system is needed. Insulation for these systems, if required, is typically a closed cell elastomeric foam. Fiberglass may also be used on hot water and other high temperature lines. Jacketing can be PVC or stainless depending on the location of the piping and sanitation needs.

Pipe Routing

When overhead pipes and utilities are problematic for sanitation and hygienic design, best practices call for a walkable ceiling. The piping system runs above the ceiling with vertical drops into processing areas. This reduces the horizontal piping directly overhead of equipment and product zones. Vertical drops near walls must be mounted to standoff and allow for cleaning behind the piping.

Water Heating Systems

Consistent access to hot water is crucial to the efficient operation of every sanitary food facility, so the choice of a water heating system is an important decision. Your facility’s unique processing and equipment sanitation needs must be taken into consideration for proper system selection. Our engineers understand the complexities of the water heating methods available and how to determine the most cost-effective system for your facility. Here are some common industry options:

Direct Gas Fired

Also called direct contact, this system uses a natural gas burner to heat water directly and immediately without the use of a large-volume storage tank. The water is typically heated by directing the combustion gases up through a stainless steel packing media with a cold-water spray nozzle above. The water is heated as it cascades down through the media. Space and energy savings make this a popular system in many facilities with a large hot water demand. These systems can also be highly efficient depending on the water flow rate, incoming water temperature, and desired discharge water temperature.

Indirect Gas Fired

This system involves the heating of water through a heat exchanger. These systems are stand-alone units (similar to a water-tube boiler) and typically used in combination with one or more storage tanks. Facilities with minimal hot water demand are good candidates for this type of system.

Direct Steam Heated

Often referred to as direct steam injection, this type of water heater passes steam through a nozzle for injection directly into the cold water. This system is frequently used for facility CIP purposes and short duration cleanups without a large hot water demand. Also, direct steam injection systems are useful when water needs to be reliably and immediately heated to strict temperature tolerances.

Indirect Steam Heated

Indirect steam uses both a storage tank and a shell-and-tube heat exchanger to heat water. Steam supplied from a boiler flows through a heat exchanger’s tubes, and the water is heated as steam passes through the shell on the outside of the tubes. The water is then circulated through the storage tank and held at the desired hot water supply temperature.

A variation of this system is a semi-instantaneous design: it delivers hot water by channeling the incoming cold water directly over the tubes of the heat exchanger in a controlled manner to maximize the heat transfer rate. With a semi-instant design, a large storage tank is typically not needed. However, this system requires a larger steam supply rate than its standard shell-and-tube counterpart.