Water, Wastewater & Stormwater

Oral

395363 - Characterization of Reverse Osmosis Permeate and Other Maple Production Wastes

Thursday, June 7
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Greenway EF
Co-Authors: Amy Macrellis, Montpelier, VT – Stone Environmental

Reverse osmosis (RO) technologies have enabled Vermont maple producers to dramatically increase production over the last 20 years. A semi-permeable membrane is used to concentrate maple sap, separating purified water (permeate) from the sugar, minerals and other dissolved constituents. The resulting concentrated sap is then boiled down into maple syrup in less time and at lower cost than starting with raw sap.
As the scale of sugaring operations has increased, management of RO permeate and other wastewater generated during maple production is of increasing interest. Most sugaring operations in Vermont lack containment or in-ground dispersal systems for production wastes, releasing process waters over the ground.
A monitoring study was conducted in 2017 at a sugaring operation in Vermont. The purpose of this study was to characterize maple production wastes, including RO permeate, equipment washwater, floordrain discharge, and vacuum pump cooling water. The study revealed RO permeate is generated at a rate of 52 gpm during peak production and an alternatives analysis was conducted to compare various methods of disposal for such volumes of water with laboratory characteristics similar to those of distilled water. The study also found high concentrations of total phosphorus (130-310 mg/L) in the washwater, resulting from products used to clean equipment. Elevated total coliform bacteria (>2400 MPN/100 mL) were found in raw sap. Thermal impacts resulting from release of vacuum pump cooling water were determined to be minimal. Although the degree to which data from this single facility represent typical conditions at maple sugaring facilities in Vermont is unknown, the study demonstrated complex water quality issues faced by sugar makers. The State of Vermont is considering these findings as they establish regulations to minimize impacts of sugaring operations on surface water quality.

Christine Gingras


Stone Environmental, Inc.

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