Trustwater: Salt and water solution cleaning up for Irish firm
Innovation Profile Clonmel company has an ingenious solution for the time and money lost on product changeovers
Kevin Keane, chief technology officer, and and Edmond O’Reilly, chief executive, of Trustwater
One of the main challenges facing the global beverage industry is the need to completely clean and sterilise production lines whenever there is a product changeover. Not only do the lines have to be cleaned of any residue from the previous product but all traces of odour and taste have to be removed as well and this can be particularly difficult in the case of pungent products.
The standard method used for this is known as clean-in-place (CIP) which cleans the interior surfaces of pipes, vessels, process equipment, filters and associated fittings, without the need for disassembly. Conventional CIP cleaning processes for such pungent flavoured products involve lengthy, hot chemical cleaning cycles often lasting more than five hours and which are very costly in terms of energy, water and chemical use. Indeed, typical beverage bottling plants can have up to 900 product changeovers in a year resulting in total downtime of thousands of hours for the plants.
An innovative Clonmel-based Irish company, Trustwater, has developed a solution to this issue which delivers savings on costs, energy, and time as well as reducing significantly the environmental impact of traditional chemical based processes.
“We have developed a technology that replaces the use of traditional chemicals in the food processing and beverage industries,” says Trustwater chief executive Edmond O’Reilly. “Our technology produces a powerful detergent and disinfectant and uses just salt and water to do it.”
This is achieved through a process known as electro-chemical activation (ECA) which is the generation of activated solutions by passing a dilute saltwater solution through an electrolytic membrane to produce two oppositely charged solutions with altered physical and chemical properties.
These are a positively charged anolyte solution, known as Ecasol which contains hypochlorous acid and is highly microbiocidal and a negatively charged catholyte solution with detergent properties known as Aversol, which consists predominantly of sodium hydroxide.
“What is produced is a very interesting combination of the four elements in the saltwater,” O’Reilly adds. “The two solutions are very effective at destroying microbes and they also act as a detergent. Very importantly they are non-toxic.”
This non-toxic property is exceptionally important. “Chlorine is toxic at four parts per million in water while our solution is non-toxic even up to 100 parts per million,” Trustwater chief technology officer Kevin Keane points out. “Our patented two-stream ECA technology is 100 times more effective than chlorine and is extremely effective even at low concentrations. It can replace a plant’s entire detergent and sanitiser needs. Aversol is a high pH alternative to traditional caustic and our activated mixed oxidant sanitiser, Ecasol, destroys all forms of microbes in very short contact times. As well as that, no technology more effectively removes stubborn biofilm.”