We pay to have a reliable water supply, so that when we turn on the tap, we have access to clean water for drinking, cooking cleaning and for use in a range of manufacturing processes. We expect nothing less and we have been sheltered from the reality of water scarcity. However, fresh water is a finite resource and unless significant changes are made, the demands of our growing population are forecast to lead to far more extensive water shortages over the next decade.
Tackling the Issue
In a bid to tackle this problem before it is too late, The Institute of Chemical Engineering (IChemE) has called for coordinated action to reduce water use within food production. At present around 10% of the world’s freshwater supply is used domestically, a further 20% is used in industry and the vast majority, 70%, is used in agriculture. IChemE want to encourage Governments, manufacturers, engineers, retailers and the farming community to work together on viable solutions.
It is likely that a multi-pronged strategy, including agreed frameworks, legislation, incentives and investment in infrastructure and technology will be necessary to make substantial changes. It will also require lifestyle changes for people throughout the developed world, which can be driven through education and awareness campaigns.
The majority of people are completely unaware of the volume of water used in food and beverage production. A person typically drinks between 1 and 2 litres of liquid per day, which could be 1-2 litres of water.
However, it takes 35 litres of water to make a cup of tea, 75 litres to make a glass of beer, 120 litres for a glass of wine, 140 litres for a cup of coffee, 170 litres for a glass of orange juice and 200 litres for a glass of milk.
Standard for Water
Some of the leading food and beverage manufacturers have already begun to take steps to audit, monitor and reduce their water use. Some have signed up to The Carbon Trust’s Standard for Water. This is a voluntary scheme which supports and encourages companies to reduce their water usage year on year. Whilst the primary aim is to reduce the risk of water scarcity, the scheme has led to significant cost savings for the companies involved. This supports their competitiveness in the market and also improves the sustainability of their processes in the future.
Ultrasonic Flow Meter
Ultrasonic flow meter technology has been used within many industries in order to monitor the flow of water and other liquids in their processes. The device is installed on the outside of pipework, so they can be introduced into new and existing processes. The flow meter is calibrated to monitor the specific liquid within the system and can ensure the process is operating at optimal levels.
An ultrasonic flow meter can detect when the flow rate is too high or low, which can help to identify leaks, blockages and other issues within the process. As they are positioned on the outside of the pipes, the devices don’t interrupt the flow and they can be installed and maintained without disrupting the process.