Global Water & Energy

Gulkevichsky Starch Factory – Global Water & Energy partnership to create a blueprint for waste reduction in the starch industry

Courtesy of Global Water & Energy

One of the biggest starch manufacturers in Russia, Gulkevichsky Starch Factory (KZG) doubles its corn processing capabilities and mitigates the environmental impact by installing a new wastewater treatment plant from Global Water & Energy (GWE).

KZG increases its production capacity from current 120,000 tons a year and adds new quality products to its portfolio. The new wastewater treatment plant designed by GWE combines the most effective proprietary technologies to guarantee full compliance with all local environmental legislation.  As part of the partnership, GWE’s team will manage part of the project execution and train KZG staff to operate the newly built wastewater treatment plan successfully.

With almost three decades of operational experience, GWE has been a reliable partner to the starch industry delivering custom solutions to handle both solid and liquid waste streams, contributing to a significant reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and overall environmental footprint of the starch factories.

 “KZG’s main objective is to ensure the development of the plant’s production capacity to provide a high-quality product to the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries without harming the ecology of the Kuban region and the nearby community,” says GWE.

The industrial effluents generated during the maize processing contain different types and concentrations of impurities, requiring highly effective physical-chemical and biological treatment steps to remove or neutralize the harmful mixtures. The multi-step treatment line includes several GWE starship technologies, including the robust and highly-efficient ANUBIX – B – Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) System.

This anaerobic reactor has been implemented at hundreds of industrial wastewater treatment plants around the world. Designed to maximize the removal of organic contamination from wastewater, the ANUBIX – B achieves superior treatment results while working with both granular and flocculant sludge. It allows for process flexibility and reliable operation during ever-changing production conditions at the starch factories.  

GWE’s ANUBIX technologies radically enhance effluent quality and, where required, can transform the organic industrial wastewater and waste into biogas which can be later used as a renewable fuel source at the factory.

After the anaerobic treatment, the residual organic contamination is removed in the ACTIVOX - a conventional activated sludge system followed by a final clarifier - to meet the local pollution control norms of treated water.

Due to the global demand increase of starch products, with an expected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.35% between 2019 and 2024 of the starch industry, proper wastewater treatment management is crucial for the protection of the water bodies and future water supply.

GWE has vast experience helping the starch industry reduce solid, liquid, and gas waste, and will implement an industrial wastewater treatment plant at the factory. The new plant at KZG will help ensure that all discharge limits are met to reduce the impact on nearby bodies of water, as well as store biological waste so it can be reused for agricultural purposes in the future.

In a statement, GWE remarked how “Gulkevichsky is one of the most modern enterprises in the Russian industry. They continuously increase their production capacities and, in 2020, Gulkevichsky Starch Factory plans to begin production of crystalline glucose – which will meet the requirements of pharmaceutical production.”

Starch industry challenges

Starch can be derived not only from corn but also from potatoes, wheat, cassava, tapioca, rice, and sorghum, to be used as an ingredient in confectionery and soft drinks, in the paper industry and other sectors.

Regardless of the raw material, starch production always involves significant amounts of water, electricity and fuel.  Energy expenses are the second-largest contributor to the overall operating costs of starch plants, only surpassed by the cost of the raw materials. On the other hand, large volumes of waste streams in the form of wastewater and solid organic waste (e.g. peel and pulp) are produced, which can be costly to dispose of, and pose a threat to the surrounding environment.

 As an expert in waste-to-energy solutions, GWE has managed to assist different types of starch factories worldwide in significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels in their production processes while making use of these waste streams. For some of the customers, the fossil energy consumption for boilers and drying was reduced by up to two thirds. In National Starch and Chemical Ltd in Thailand (1), for example, biogas generated from the anaerobic digestion of post-production wastewaters with ANUBIXTM technology and solid waste with the RAPTOR® technology replaces over 12,000 kg of crude oil per day.

The highly effective waste-to-energy solutions GWE implemented for starch companies around the world, not only help to cover the energy needs but also help reduce the impact on nearby residents and ecosystems by replacing low-efficiency treatment systems with the state-of-the-art technologies, not only bringing profits to the companies but also cutting down large amounts of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

(1) “Forward-thinking global manufacturer safeguards the environment and the future with green energy”, http://www.globalwe.com/news/forward-thinking-global-manufacturer-safeguards-the-environment-and-the-future-with-green-energy/