Food Products

The Water Cluster

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  • Utilities
  • Gas, Water & Multi-utilities
  • Water

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Katie Hiscock
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Case Study: PepsiCo – Boosting water supplies in potato factories

  • Subsectors:
  • Utilities
  • Gas, Water & Multi-utilities
  • Water

Did you know that a potato is 75% water? No? Interestingly, PepsiCo the owners of the crisp brand Lays/Walkers, are testing a new technology to capture some of the water that is lost in the crisp manufacturing process. The process of manufacturing crisps is very water (and energy) intensive from the cleaning, cutting and slicing of the potatoes through to the baking, in which much of the water from the potato is released into the atmosphere through a chimney stack.

Water can be captured from the potato and be reused after a simple water treatment process because the water is captured from steam, containing naturally cleansed water. The capabilities of this will initially lead to factories using this water in the cleaning process, however the potential is that one day the factories could be taken off the national grid, boosting water supplies to the local economy and reducing energy and water bills for the company.

The move is one that PepsiCo see as a benefit to the local economy around their factories, with the current capacity to collect around 3,000 litres a day.

This is the latest in a series of innovative ideas being developed by PepsiCo, after announcing new technology “iCrop”, which allows for the direct and specific application of water throughout potato growing fields. Alongside this they have set themselves an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 50% over the next 5 years.

Local to us in Peterborough, UK, McCain Foods Ltd use starchy water from the washing of potatoes in their on-site anaerobic digester. Other waste is added such as potato peel creating an electricity production of 1063kWe at full capacity. Also, Flo-Mech, a Peterborough-based manufacturer of food processing equipment, has developed a range of equipment that reduces the amount of energy used, and wastewater produced, in the potato manufacturing industry. Machinery such as the Flo-Starch and the Flo-Therm are specifically designed to re-use wastewater and reduce CO2 emissions respectively.


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