Essential for the manufacture of infant formula or beverages, the use of drinking water as an ingredient requires compliance with strict criteria for food safety.
In order to comply efficiently with production requirements while guaranteeing the microbiological quality of the water ingredient, Veolia Water Technologies has developed Nurion, a standardized range of plug & play osmosis units combining reliability and flexibility.
To find out more we have talked to two experts in charge of business development at Veolia Water Technologies: Jean-François Lauzon and Frédéric Fuhrmann.
Interview: Nathalie Delmas
What do today’s industrial companies need when using water as an ingredient?
Frédéric Fuhrmann: When water is used as an ingredient in infant nutrition and beverages (soft drink and brewery) by the industry, it must first and foremost be free of taste, odor, color, undesirable impurities and any risk of contamination that could harm consumers and the quality of the product. Food safety and risk control are thus the primary concerns of the industrial company that uses water as an ingredient.
Jean-François Lauzon: In addition to this need for a specific type of water (decarbonated and osmosed) in order to avoid tastes and odors, the manufacturer is confronted with standards, regulations and market requirements. The quality of the water ingredient must be maintained from a bacteriological point of view and it’s therefore a real challenge for the manufacturer who has to produce process water from drinking water which must also comply with strict criteria for food safety. Note also that certain pollutants are now taken into account in the treatment chain, such as chlorates, bromates or phthalates. Nurion responds perfectly to all these criteria.
How does Nurion differ from a standard reverse osmosis system?
Frédéric Fuhrmann: Reverse osmosis technology is indeed a technology that has been around for many years. It is a separation technology using membranes to remove some of the soluble salts contained in the water. Nurion is a skid-mounted reverse osmosis (RO) system designed to produce water from high quality ingredients. Nurion differs from a standard industrial RO system due to its design and the manufacturing materials used to limit the risk of microbial contamination.
Jean-François Lauzon: When Nurion was being developed, the two main challenges were to bring a technology to the market that would produce high quality compliant ingredient water with an integrated hygienic design to control the risk of bacteriological development. Nurion uses certified components for the production of drinking water, such as stainless steel piping and controlled welding. It also complies with the EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group) and permeate line guidelines. These elements, combined with appropriate pre-treatment, guarantee microbial control and very consistent water quality in the final product.
Can it be said that this hygienic design has become the hallmark of Nurion?
Jean-François Lauzon: Absolutely! Today, in the face of the new standards and challenges in this industry, the customer needs the product to be highly hygienized. Nurion does just this and has made it its trademark!
The objective is to minimize any potential for bacteriological contamination, for example, the quality of weld finishing, installation avoiding water stagnation, etc. The entire design was conceived from this perspective.
In addition to risk and quality control, reduced cleaning and maintenance as well as homogenization are also required by the customer. How does Nurion meet these other needs?
Jean-François Lauzon: Not only do we want to avoid bacteriological contamination, but we also want to avoid having to clean the equipment too often. With Nurion, we manage the risk associated with water quality. The hygienic design allows us to reduce the risks associated with cleaning.
For economic reasons, it should not be forgotten that the manufacturer cannot afford to stop the production line for hours on end (except for planning purposes where relay solutions could be implemented). It is therefore extremely important for the company to secure its production and quality. The customer is also investing in this by installing Nurion in their production process.
Frédéric Fuhrmann: For some manufacturers whose plants operate seven days a week, all year round, the downtime or maintenance time must be absolutely minimal, they need a high-performing installation. This really is an important decision-making element. Companies who are located around the world want to homogenize the taste quality of their product. Indeed, the qualities of raw water they have to treat are different depending on the location of their industry. These industrialists are looking for a homogeneity of taste and quality and want to secure this homogeneity while using different process chains. Nurion guarantees this quality and safeguards the processing at the end of the line, in particular through its hygienic design.
Nurion is now a standardized product. What does this mean for the customer?
Frédéric Fuhrmann: Nurion was developed in collaboration with market leaders. Veolia Water Technologies was able to capitalize on feedback from its hundreds of water ingredient installations around the world. This knowledge has led to the development of a completely standardized product which incorporates the specifications of the leading manufacturers in this field.
The availability of a standard product in our catalogue allows us to be competitive in terms of CAPEX and OPEX by optimizing our supply chain, managing its costs and reducing our delivery times. This is also the strength of this product.
Nurion was standardized by Veolia Water Technologies more than a year ago now, ensuring the reliability of the product and the availability of consumables and spare parts. Today a complete range is proposed, with six different models with identical designs. The only difference is the production rate which ranges from 5 to 25 m /h.
For more flexibility, we offer a wide range of options to the customer. Nurion can, for example, be equipped with a digital solution allowing the implementation of different services, for monitoring and optimizing the performance of the equipment. Large corporations can thus have the capacity to monitor their fleet of installations in real time throughout the world and be able to capitalize on maintenance and the optimization of all processes; a huge advantage due to the real economic stakes.
Jean-François Lauzon: When we talk about product standardization, it also means that all our equipment is tested before leaving the factory. We also offer our customers the possibility to test the product with us. This service allows our customers to become better acquainted with Nurion and its functionalities before it is installed, also enabling them to train future operators and maintenance managers.
What happens when Nurion is installed for a customer?
Frédéric Fuhrmann: Product standardization allows us to rapidly install Nurion, minimizing installation and commissioning times. Prior to the order, we will have already validated the process studies of the system according to the water analysis. This quality of water to be treated will make it possible to identify the pre-treatment steps to be implemented upstream of the Nurion reverse osmosis process. These stages will be selected to ensure optimal efficiency of the entire treatment process.
Is it safe to say that Nurion is destined to become a must for manufacturers who use water as an ingredient?
Frédéric Fuhrmann: In addition to integrating a reverse osmosis stage at our customer site, Nurion treats new pollutants such as chlorate, phthalates and bromates and anticipates the evolution of future standards. Nurion is above all a new range of osmosis units, with standardized products that incorporate a hygienic design to improve the management of bacteriological contamination risks.
What projects are there for the Nurion range?
Jean-François Lauzon: Nurion is already accomplished in terms of achievement and quality! The product is highly configurable and adapts well to the demands of not only French but also international markets. Nurion's first developments and commercial successes were initially focused on the major players in the infant milk market. We are now extending this development to other more varied markets such as drinking water (brewery and soft drink) where similar needs have been identified.
Our next challenge is to help all these other market players to improve their risk management!
To know more about Nurion, click here