50 Years - 50 Stories: Yatala Brewery Upgrade

Aquatec Maxcon 50 Years 50 Stories  Yatala Story

The brewery at Yatala, (located strategically between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, originally known as the Power Brewing Company) was built in 1988 by entrepreneur Bernie Power to compete mainly against the Brisbane based brewery Castlemaine Perkins, who produced the iconic XXXX beer, and the local arm of Carlton and United Breweries (CUB).

Bernie subsequently entered a joint venture to form Queensland Breweries with CUB in 1992 and sold out in 1993, whereupon CUB ceased production of beer in their Fortitude Valley facility.

Based on the advantages of anaerobic technology for treatment of high strength wastes, CUB and consultant GHD commenced discussions with Aquatec Maxcon early in 1993; Aquatec Maxcon having recently successfully installed and commissioned the Paques BV designed UASB (upflow anaerobic sludge blanket) system in the Golden Circle Cannery, not far from Yatala. Around the same time, Aquatec Maxcon was in preliminary discussions with Cadbury for staged anaerobic effluent treatment trials at their chocolate factory in Claremont, Tasmania. It was clear that the Paques BV UASB technology was becoming well respected in Australia for food industry wastes in particular.

Anaerobic treatment advantages include that granular sludge can be dormant for months, unlike aerobic sludge; there are minimal power requirements; and a relatively small footprint is required (compared to aerobic treatment). Most importantly, it was a process fundamental at Yatala that the quality of the treated effluent from the plant comply with industrial inflow pollutant limits applicable to the local sewage treatment plant without the need for aerobic polishing.

Aquatec Maxcon, in conjunction with Paques BV, then finalised the flowsheet with the interested parties, and we built the plant to a very tight timeline for commissioning in December 1993. Upstream equipment included an Aquatec Maxcon inlet screen and clarifier.

As is usual with large anaerobic plants, Aquatec Maxcon worked with CUB for some time to optimise the performance of the plant and to that end Aquatec Maxcon employed a keen and knowledgeable university student who was undertaking a masters thesis on anaerobic treatment. When optimized, the plant operated very reliably and well within effluent quality specification requirements.

Being an anaerobic plant with the associated generation of methane, Aquatec Maxcon originally installed a gas storage and flare facility, however, a year or so later, the CUB plant engineer (Charlie Foxall) installed equipment to use the methane gas as fuel in the brewery boilers. Charlie worked with Aquatec Maxcon right from the start, and his faith in the UASB technology was strong. So strong that years later when CUB expanded the capacity of the brewery, Charlie preferred for the major upgrade of the effluent treatment to tertiary quality, that Aquatec Maxcon base the design on UASB settlers in lieu the more recent Paques upgraded IC (internal circulation) anaerobic treatment design.

Of interest, the major Yatala brewery upgrade was brought about by the closure of the CUB-owned Tooths Kent brewery in Broadway, Sydney. CUB then invited Aquatec Maxcon to review all the redundant equipment from the Kent brewery and piece together as many components as possible to use for the design and installation of an effluent treatment plant at the CUB-owned Samoan Breweries plant at Vailema (Apia).

This was the first treatment facility of any kind in Western Samoa; and another successful Aquatec Maxcon installation.

Story submitted by Geoff Parker.

Aquatec Maxcon Yatala 50 years UASB

Above: A little piece of Aquatec Maxcon history. Article about Yatala from Industry Magazine, circa 1993/94.