Lamb Weston is based in the Netherlands and is a worldwide supplier of frozen potato products such as Twisters, Potato Dippers and Connoisseur Fries, and dried potato flakes.
As a market leader, Lamb Weston sees it as their responsibility to always think one step ahead. Challenging the established order, asking questions like: what if …? And never settle for less. They believe that you can help the world with inventiveness and ingenuity. Not only because they can feed the growing population with their products, but also because they care for the environment and invest in the further development of their industry. Sharing the same opinions, the connection with Pathema was quickly realized!
Luc Wuijts – Maintenance Engineer – approached us as a result of the publication of the Heineken report. This research report revealed, among other things, that after the IVG-C skid has been deployed, the evaporative condenser can run free of chemicals, while operation remains guaranteed without limescale, corrosion and / or microbial risks.
In 2012, Lamb Weston Bergen op Zoom had plans to build a new production line, line 3. The objective was exploiting the cooling water free of chemicals. This production line was completed in 2015, with Pathema’s IVG20-C CoolWater Pro integrated in the system.
The collaboration started on a “no cure no pay” basis, with a trial period of 12 months. The newly installed evaporative condensers remained free of limescale, corrosion and microbiological growth. All without the use of any chemicals. In addition, savings were made on several aspects of the process, such as on discharge costs, water purchase and of course chemical costs.
Based on the success achieved on line 3, it was later decided to also start using the same installation on production line 1. This line had been in use for 20 years at that time, and the Pathema installation could be connected to this line without any problems.
LW was very motivated to start chemical-free cooling, not only because of the costs and the environmental benefits, but also because of the intensive work involved in conducting a chemical operation; the standard work to maintain the chemical installation required a lot of effort that they would rather use in a different way. Moreover, they wanted more safety.
With the knowledge gained during the commissioning of line 3, LW knew that all this could be achieved by installing a second IVG20-C CoolWater Pro. The decision to switch to a second installation for line 1 was therefore taken very quickly (2017).
Lamb Weston has decided to be circular as much as possible at a global scale in 2025. From that moment on, the use of chemicals is no longer feasible as far as Lamb Weston is concerned. The target for 2020 was a 50 percent reduction in direct water consumption and a 30 percent reduction in direct energy consumption per tonne end product. That is why in 2019 a third IVG20-C CoolWater Pro was chosen for the last remaining cooling towers. All cooling towers at Lamb Weston now run totally free of chemicals.
Following the idea of producing as circular as possible in 2025, further discussions were held between both partners. The result is that Pathema is continuing its innovative development for Lamb Weston. Water treatment was installed in 2020, so that no longer any drinking water needs to be taken in by any of the cooling towers at LW. There are 10 in total, together “good” for 24 Mega Watt, or 42.51 m3 / hr.
No more drinking water for the cooling towers, how is that possible? To realize this progressive plan, Pathema is developing a self-cleaning water treatment system for this project that purifies waste water from the food industry for reuse in the cooling towers. This does not only mean that polluted water can be used in industrial (cooling) systems, but also that cooling water can be reused much longer because it remains cleaner. In addition, a self-cleaning system is being developed, based on intelligent software that continuously monitors the quality of the process and cooling water. This makes it possible to act in time on pollution of the system, in order to minimize nuisance caused by cleaning. This way there is a reduction in the use of clean tap water for cooling of at least 95% per year and a water footprint saving of 39.39%.
“Fast food is booming,” Luc Wuyts says. “That means that we, as a supplier, have to realize enormous capacity increases. Quality is more important than price for Lamb Weston. Because we work with a natural product, that is quite a challenge. The process can be different every day. ”Washing, peeling and cutting the potatoes into French fries costs 16 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of water per day”, Wuyts says. “We are ambitious regarding sustainability and therefore Lamb Weston is very committed to reusing the water.”
At a site in the United States, a chemical-free cooling water purification trial failed, and were not very keen to try it again. Luc continues: “In the US, the bundles were due for replacement within a year. That is the most important thing: how do you ensure that no limescale deposits occur on the pipe bundles when you cannot work with chemicals?
And on top of that of course the prevention of legionella. ”Luc and his colleagues got in contact with Pathema and saw something in their IVG-C CoolWater PRO. “Although not everyone in the company was convinced immediately, the energy team persevered and agreed a pilot with Mark Boeren from Pathema that would be evaluated after a year on the basis of no cure no pay. He showed us that apart from not having to work with chemicals, which is a lot safer for employees, there were also substantial energy savings. ”
The progressive objectives that Lamb Weston always has set, have already brought many beautiful things. The coming period will be dominated by the process water recovery project. After realizing this project in the coming year, the next step will undoubtedly be to find even more destinations for the recovered water. You can, for example, think of steam production for the steam potato peeler, a device in which potatoes are peeled at breakneck speed through the use of steam. And given the creativity and ambitions of both parties, many great ideas and solutions will most likely follow.