Chlorine Dioxide: the practical choice for water treatment in the UK

Chlorine Dioxide: the practical choice for water treatment in the UK

Chlorine Dioxide the practical choice for water treatment in the UK

Chlorine Dioxide: the practical choice for water treatment in the UK

What is Chlorine Dioxide?

Chlorine dioxide (ClO2) is a yellow or reddish-yellow gas. It’s a highly reactive compound, especially when heated. When exposed to the air, sunlight breaks it down into chlorine gas and oxygen. Chlorine gas is toxic if inhaled. Chlorine dioxide turns to liquid below 11ºC   and can be frozen into an orange-colored solid, for instance for shipping, although it must be carefully monitored during transit.

As chlorine dioxide is such a volatile compound, difficult to store or transport safely, it is usually manufactured in solution form at the point of use, as and when required. It does not occur naturally. Chlorine dioxide, when dissolved in water, is an efficient disinfectant and is used around the world to make drinking water safe. Chlorine dioxide solution has many other industrial and agricultural applications, including bleaching paper and fabric, and disinfecting food processing equipment.

How is Chlorine Dioxide made?

Chlorine dioxide can be explosive and cause burns in gas form, so it is most commonly manufactured as a stable solution. Chlorine dioxide solution is generated through the acidification of sodium chlorite. This process involves adding sodium chloride crystals or flakes to water (producing sodium chlorite NaClO2) and a food-grade acid (e.g., phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, citric acid, malic acid, or sodium hydrogen sulfate). This combination generates chlorous acid (HClO2), which decomposes to a specific and controlled mix of chlorite (ClO2), chlorine dioxide (ClO2) and chloride (Cl ̄).

Alternatively, a stabilized chlorine dioxide solution is “activated by adding small doses of a strong acid. This releases low quantities of gaseous chlorine dioxide over a period of time.

Why is Chlorine Dioxide such an effective water treatment?

Although chlorine is usually the chemical associated with water treatment, chlorine dioxide is a better choice for many reasons. Both chlorine and chlorine dioxide are highly reactive, but chlorine dioxide has the advantage in that it only reacts with a narrow range of chemicals. It remains stable across a wider range of pH values than chlorine: it’s only active in the pH4-10 range. It does not react with the vast majority of organic compounds therefore it is easier to control and has more of an effect at lower residual levels than either chlorine or another competitor, ozone.

One of the main reasons for sanitizing the water supply is to destroy biofilms, the slimy collection of molds, viruses, and bacteria that may be found growing on the surface of equipment. Biofilms often build up in pipework, or in the warm environments offered by hot and cold water systems in buildings and cooling towers.

The microorganisms in biofilms include disease-causing pathogens such as E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria so it’s important to prevent their development and stop the spread of any spores. The microorganisms cluster together and secrete a protective polysaccharide “glue” that helps them to resist outside elements.

Chlorine dioxide penetrates this slimy outer layer by breaking down the inert sugars. Unlike other biocides, chlorine dioxide then continues reacting with the proteins that the microorganisms are built from, disrupting cell function and preventing them from reproducing. Chlorine dioxide is particularly effective at preventing the build-up of Legionella, Giardia Lambia and Cryptosporidium oocysts in public drinking water supplies.

Another reason to choose chlorine dioxide over chlorine is that it does not form disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as chloramines and halogenated compounds (Trihalomethane or THMS). Chloramines can taint the water, causing an unpleasant taste and/or odour. Obviously, it’s crucial that the water used in agricultural and food processes is odourless and tasteless so it doesn’t contaminate the product. Chlorine dioxide disinfects without side-effects.

Finally, chlorine dioxide oxidises swiftly as it only reacts with a narrow range of chemicals. This means it goes to work on the problem more quickly than other disinfectants and at lower residual levels. Chlorine dioxide is a much more precise, fast-acting water treatment solution than chlorine and its other competitors. 

Looking for Chlorine Dioxide Generators? 

What is Chlorine Dioxide?

Chlorine dioxide (ClO2) is a yellow or reddish-yellow gas. It’s a highly reactive compound, especially when heated. When exposed to the air, sunlight breaks it down into chlorine gas and oxygen. Chlorine gas is toxic if inhaled. Chlorine dioxide turns to liquid below 11ºC   and can be frozen into an orange-colored solid, for instance for shipping, although it must be carefully monitored during transit.

As chlorine dioxide is such a volatile compound, difficult to store or transport safely, it is usually manufactured in solution form at the point of use, as and when required. It does not occur naturally. Chlorine dioxide, when dissolved in water, is an efficient disinfectant and is used around the world to make drinking water safe. Chlorine dioxide solution has many other industrial and agricultural applications, including bleaching paper and fabric, and disinfecting food processing equipment.

How is Chlorine Dioxide made?

Chlorine dioxide can be explosive and cause burns in gas form, so it is most commonly manufactured as a stable solution. Chlorine dioxide solution is generated through the acidification of sodium chlorite. This process involves adding sodium chloride crystals or flakes to water (producing sodium chlorite NaClO2) and a food-grade acid (e.g., phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, citric acid, malic acid, or sodium hydrogen sulfate). This combination generates chlorous acid (HClO2), which decomposes to a specific and controlled mix of chlorite (ClO2), chlorine dioxide (ClO2) and chloride (Cl ̄).

Alternatively, a stabilized chlorine dioxide solution is “activated by adding small doses of a strong acid. This releases low quantities of gaseous chlorine dioxide over a period of time.

Why is Chlorine Dioxide such an effective water treatment?

Although chlorine is usually the chemical associated with water treatment, chlorine dioxide is a better choice for many reasons. Both chlorine and chlorine dioxide are highly reactive, but chlorine dioxide has the advantage in that it only reacts with a narrow range of chemicals. It remains stable across a wider range of pH values than chlorine: it’s only active in the pH4-10 range. It does not react with the vast majority of organic compounds therefore it is easier to control and has more of an effect at lower residual levels than either chlorine or another competitor, ozone.

One of the main reasons for sanitizing the water supply is to destroy biofilms, the slimy collection of molds, viruses, and bacteria that may be found growing on the surface of equipment. Biofilms often build up in pipework, or in the warm environments offered by hot and cold water systems in buildings and cooling towers.

The microorganisms in biofilms include disease-causing pathogens such as E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria so it’s important to prevent their development and stop the spread of any spores. The microorganisms cluster together and secrete a protective polysaccharide “glue” that helps them to resist outside elements.

Chlorine dioxide penetrates this slimy outer layer by breaking down the inert sugars. Unlike other biocides, chlorine dioxide then continues reacting with the proteins that the microorganisms are built from, disrupting cell function and preventing them from reproducing. Chlorine dioxide is particularly effective at preventing the build-up of Legionella, Giardia Lambia and Cryptosporidium oocysts in public drinking water supplies.

Another reason to choose chlorine dioxide over chlorine is that it does not form disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as chloramines and halogenated compounds (Trihalomethane or THMS). Chloramines can taint the water, causing an unpleasant taste and/or odour. Obviously, it’s crucial that the water used in agricultural and food processes is odourless and tasteless so it doesn’t contaminate the product. Chlorine dioxide disinfects without side-effects.

Finally, chlorine dioxide oxidises swiftly as it only reacts with a narrow range of chemicals. This means it goes to work on the problem more quickly than other disinfectants and at lower residual levels. Chlorine dioxide is a much more precise, fast-acting water treatment solution than chlorine and its other competitors.

What are the types of chlorination used in water treatment?

There are three main methods of chlorinating water, depending on the strength of the disinfectant required. Chlorine compounds can be added to the water as:

  • Liquid (in the form of sodium hypochlorite);
  • Solid, in the form of powder, granules, or tablets, made from calcium hypochlorite, chlorinated isocyanurates or lithium hypochlorite;
  • Gas (highly toxic and only used under special conditions).

When chlorine or a chlorine compound is added into water it releases hypochlorous acid, HOCl. The hypochlorous acid commonly disassociates into other forms, such as the chlorite ion, OCl-, depending on the pH of the water. The amount of chlorine in the water in these forms is referred to as Free Chlorine. The reaction of chlorine with organics to form compounds such as chloramines is referred to as combined chlorine.

How is Chlorine Dioxide applied in water treatment?

Chlorine dioxide water treatment is a versatile process that can be adapted to many different types and sizes of facilities. Depending on the strength and speed of biocidal action required, chlorine dioxide can be generated on site and on demand from tablets, solutions, or via electrochlorination. This allows the operator to control the concentration of chlorine dioxide within their water system. The most common type of generators form chlorine dioxide as an aqueous solution of consistent product strength from the controlled reaction of Hydrochloric Acid and Sodium Chlorite.

As mentioned above, chlorine dioxide can also be stored and used in the form of Stabilised Chlorine Dioxide. This is an aqueous buffered solution of chlorine dioxide, activated through the addition of an additional acid solution. Some facilities find this to be a more convenient method of chlorination. 

What are the benefits of Chlorine Dioxide water treatment to industry?

As a swift and efficient biocide, chlorine dioxide has many applications. It destroys bacteria, viruses, fungi and other pathogens on hard surfaces and within water supply systems. It can be added to any hot or cold water system, including cooling towers, swimming pools, and spas to destroy problem bacteria and viruses such as Pseudomonas, MRSA, E-coli, and cryptosporidium. 

Chlorine dioxide is a vital component of the sanitization process at every stage of agricultural production, storage, and distribution. It’s also valued as a disinfectant for large buildings, such as office blocks, hotels, laboratories, and hospitals – especially those which might be vulnerable to legionella growth within their water supply. It’s employed across the hospitality sector as an all-round sanitizer and antimicrobial agent.

If you have questions about the use of Chlorine Dioxide in water treatment, please contact us. The Prodose team has more than ten years of expertise in this area and we can advise on all aspects of your water disinfection system. We offer end-to-end water treatment service, designing and installing your system, supplying chemicals, and servicing. Prodose is your one-stop shop for Chlorine Dioxide water treatment.

 

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Is Sodium Hypochlorite The Best Way To Treat Water For The Food Industry?

Is Sodium Hypochlorite The Best Way To Treat Water For The Food Industry?

Is Sodium Hypochlorite The Best Way To Treat Water For The Food Industry?

Is Sodium Hypochlorite The Best Way To Treat Water For The Food Industry?

Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) is a greenish-yellow liquid produced by combining chlorine and sodium hydroxide. Commercial sodium hypochlorite is manufactured by adding chlorine gas to caustic soda, which produces sodium hypochlorite, water and salt. Alternatively, when smaller amounts are required, sodium hypochlorite can be produced on site by dissolving salt in softened water. This results in a concentrated brine which can be electrolyzed to form a sodium hypochlorite solution.  

How is Sodium Hypochlorite currently used in the food industry?

Sodium hypochlorite has many applications in agriculture, food and beverage industries. Sodium Hypochlorite maintains water quality through oxidation or disinfection. It destroys harmful microorganisms and prevents algae or shellfish from growing in stored water. It’s an essential component in many sanitisation processes, including washing fruits and vegetables, and the preparation of meat and fish for consumption. As it’s the main ingredient in household bleach, it’s used on factories and farms for cleaning and disinfecting equipment. It’s widely used to disinfect potable water and wastewater in certain countries.  It’s an effective treatment for private water supplies from boreholes, also called wells, and where water is stored prior to use in industry.

How does Sodium Hypochlorite work as a disinfectant?

Sodium hypochlorite functions as a disinfectant in a similar manner to chlorine and is very effective against viruses, bacteria and fungi as it strips away microbial cell walls and renders nucleic acids non-functional, preventing these organisms from reproducing. When added to water, it forms hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and a chlorite ion (OCl-) otherwise known as free chlorine. 

The ratio between HOCl and OCl- depends on the pH and the temperature of the water. At 25°C and pH 7.5, the chlorine is divided equally between HOCl and OCl-. It may be necessary to acidify the water as part of the process in order to get the desired proportions – ideally with more hypochlorous acid in the mix as this is the best disinfectant. As the hypochlorite ion is negatively charged, it bounces away from microbial cell walls, which are also negatively charged. The chlorite ion is also bigger than the HOCl molecule so it diffuses more slowly. Hypochlorous acid is usually the best option as it’s a stronger oxidising agent than the hypochlorite ion.

Hypochlorous acid degrades rapidly when it comes into contact with organic matter so it does not have a lasting environmental impact. As with other forms of chlorine, regular testing of the pH and chlorine levels in treated water is necessary to ensure that local quality standards are being met. 

What precautions should be taken when storing commercially available Sodium Hypochlorite? 

The sodium hypochlorite solution normally available from chemical suppliers is safer and more convenient to store than chlorine gas, but it breaks down if exposed to sunlight, high temperatures, or vibrations. When it’s stored for a long period of time the solution degrades, so good stock management is essential. The higher the original concentration of the solution, the more rapidly it breaks down. It should be stored in a cool room in an opaque (ideally black) container. Sodium hypochlorite is caustic and can irritate, even burn, the eyes and skin on contact, so it needs to be handled by trained staff using protective gear.

The need for controlled storage is one of the main drawbacks of using Sodium Hypochlorite, along with the health and safety protocols involved. It can be difficult and expensive to store large amounts over time. In order to maintain standards, an agricultural production company might need to keep large quantities of other chemicals like chlorine dioxide and peracetic acid on site for washer disinfection. This means placing regular orders with a chemical supplier, costing upwards of £100K per annum.

Is there an alternative to bulk storing Sodium Hypochlorite?

At Prodose, we have developed a unique electrochlorination system that uses common salt, water and electricity to dispense a low pH Sodium Hypochlorite into your water supply as and when required. No hazardous chemicals are needed for this reaction, so storage isn’t a problem. It’s a much safer process than chlorination using commercial sodium hypochlorite as the solution remains below the 5% concentration threshold considered hazardous by the UK Health and Safety Executive. 

Our electrochlorination systems are geared to the size of your operation and range in dosing levels from 100 grams per hour up to 10 kilograms per hour. This simplifies the production process with increased automation, saves on running costs (chemicals cost around £10K per annum), and improves efficiency. We’ve installed these electrochlorination systems in a wide range of facilities, including cleaning in place (CIP) for a leading soft drinks company.

To learn more about the latest water treatment techniques, including alternatives to Sodium Hypochlorite, please contact the team of expert chemical engineers at Prodose. We specialise in developing unique solutions to your water treatment problems, and electrochlorination may well be the technology you’re looking for.

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What part does chlorine play in food safety?

What part does chlorine play in food safety?

What Part Does Chlorine Play In Food Safety?

What Part Does Chlorine Play In Food Safety?

21st century food production, processing and delivery relies on a constant source of clean water to disinfect machinery, containers, work surfaces and the products themselves. This prevents the spread of foodborne diseases.

Chlorine is highly valued across the food and beverage industry and agriculture as one of the most effective ways to treat water supplies and maintain hygienic standards.

Most people are familiar with the pungent odour indicating a chlorine solution has been used in the immediate area. Although it seems ubiquitous in our everyday environment, this highly reactive gas doesn’t occur naturally. It’s found in thousands of chemical compounds, including common substances such as salt (sodium chloride), sylvite (potassium chloride) and carnallite (potassium magnesium chloride hexahydrate).

At Prodose, our team of chemical experts advise on and implement the use of chlorine compounds to treat water in a wide range of food safety applications. In agriculture, chlorinated water irrigates fields and livestock sheds, lowering the risk of contamination at source. In fruit and vegetable processing plants, chlorine solutions wash the product prior to packaging. In restaurants and supermarkets, chlorine-based compounds such as bleach are used to clean equipment to protect both workers and customers.  Each business uses treated water in a different way and we specialise in providing the most efficient system to meet your unique disinfection needs.

How does Chlorine prevent the spread of disease?

Foodborne diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera and Legionnaires’ disease are caused by microbial pathogens that live in water. When it comes into contact with these microorganisms, Chlorine damages their cell walls, preventing the pathogen from functioning or reproducing.

How does Chlorine react with water?

Chlorine can be added to water in any one of its three forms, depending on the strength of the disinfectant required. The strength of the chlorine compound is known as “available chlorine”, as this is the amount available for the chemical reaction:

  • Liquid (in the form of sodium hypochlorite), around 12-16% available chlorine;
  • Solid, in the form of powder, granules, or tablets, made from calcium hypochlorite (65-75% available chlorine), chlorinated isocyanurates (variable) or lithium hypochlorite (35% available chlorine);
  • Gas (highly toxic and only used under special conditions) 100% available chlorine. 

When chlorine or a chlorine compound is added into water it releases hypochlorous acid, HOCl. The hypochlorous acid commonly disassociates into other forms, such as the chlorite ion, OCl, depending on the pH of the water. The amount of chlorine in the water in these forms is referred to as Free Chlorine. The reaction of chlorine with organics to form compounds such as chloramines is referred to as combined chlorine. 

The sum of Free Chlorine + Combined Chlorine is known as Total Chlorine. 

In some applications, where the water contains many organics, such as swimming pools, it’s useful to monitor Free and Total Chlorine levels on a regular basis to ensure that the quality of the water meets local standards.

Which chlorine compound is most useful to the food industry? 

There’s a lot of demand for chlorine dioxide, which is considered a highly cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and potent antimicrobial agent for use within the food industry. Even at low concentrations, it destroys the pathogens that sometimes cling to fruits or vegetables, and prevents any regrowth of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and moulds, extending the shelf life of these products quite significantly. Large quantities can easily be produced on site, so it’s an ideal choice for plants producing pre-prepared foods such as bagged salads. 

Are Chlorine compounds the only option for disinfecting water in the food industry? 

We’ll discuss the advantages of this process further in future posts. Make sure you’ve subscribed so you don’t miss them.

Prodose’s team of chemical engineers have years of experience advising on the installation of water treatment systems for the food industry. We offer a wide range of disinfection products to fit every chlorination need. We’re continually pushing forward with new technologies that minimize onsite storage of chemicals and limit the amount of human interaction needed to keep systems running. If you have questions about improving the efficiency of your existing system, or want to install a state-of-the-art clean water supply for your agricultural location or food processing plant, please get in touch.

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New Salad Project

New Salad Project

New Salad Project

New Project

Bagged salad producer approaches Prodose.

We’ve just received a new order from a producer of pre-bagged salad. It looks like this project will be an interesting case study for any similar food supplier.

This client currently uses three flume washers to process fresh produce. Each of these washers already has an automatic dosing system based around the use of peracetic acid with residual monitoring and dedicated dosing pumps.

Our engineers visited the site to assess the current process. As with all our consultations, our aim was to focus on understanding what the client needs to achieve. Unless there is a valid reason for making changes to the process, we respect the client’s way of doing things.

Rather than trying to persuade the customer to make changes to their operation so that it fits a standardised method or a particular type of machine, we work to try and reduce costs or improve the overall effectiveness of the existing process. In other words, we create solutions on your terms rather than ours.

Prodose doesn’t have tie-ins with specific technology providers, so we can offer our expertise on a truly independent basis.

In this case, our advice has helped the client to determine that they can achieve beneficial results by switching to sodium hypochlorite, which is generated on site by an Ampro electrochlorinator. Salt, water and electricity are all that is needed to produce this disinfectant. 

This will not only create a significant chemical cost saving – it may also help to achieve a longer product shelf life by making the disinfection process more effective. We will also be installing automatic chlorine dosing in order to maintain the free chlorine levels in the washer.

The sodium hypochlorite produced by the Ampro generator has a relatively neutral pH. Nevertheless, it will still be essential to maintain the pH of the water in the washer within a tight tolerance to ensure that the sodium hypochlorite solution has optimum disinfection capability. This is achieved by monitoring and dosing with citric acid when required.

We will also take steps to eliminate a common issue with sampling water from a flume washer. Often, the turbulence in the washer can cause small particles to break off the salad items. These bits of debris contaminate the sample water and can lead to inaccurate readings. For this reason, the sample water being fed to the analysers needs to be filtered.

 The client understands the need for this filtration, but gave us a challenge. They don’t want to rely on operators remembering to check and clean the filters.

To meet this requirement, we have sourced and provided a fully automatic self-cleaning filtration package. It is suitable for the low flow rate common in analyser sample water feeds.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which a consultation with Prodose can provide some ideas for improving efficiency and reducing costs, even on systems that already have a good degree of automation and product safety.

 

Would you like to talk to us? Please call 01536 460 400.

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Focus on Food Washing

Focus on Food Washing

Focus on Food Washing

Food washing:

Do you monitor your disinfection levels?

In the food industry, it is common for food suppliers and processors to disinfect fruit, salad leaves and vegetables by washing them in water that has been treated with disinfectant. This is an essential part of the process in preparing produce such as bagged salads or food-to-go fruit, sushi etc.

The choice of disinfectant is very important because chemicals can have different effects depending on the types of produce being washed.

Preserving natural colour

For example, if you are processing beetroot then you will want to preserve the characteristic red colour. For this reason it is best to avoid hypochlorite compounds as they will dull the vibrancy of the natural colouring. Peracetic Acid would be a better choice for washing beetroot.

Controlling blight

Potatoes present a different challenge. You will want to prevent them being affected by late blight and black rot in order to maximise their shelf life. Chlorine dioxide is a well-proven option for controlling both of these organisms and preventing them from ruining your stock.

Time is money

Once you have chosen the most appropriate disinfectant for a given product, it is just as important to maintain control over the disinfection process. There are several factors to consider here.

For any food processing operation, time is money, so it is an advantage to have a system that does everything to reduce or eliminate downtime.

Food safety

If you can maintain ideal disinfectant levels, regardless of the type of food being processed, this not only saves time, but has obvious food safety advantages too.

This is achievable when you have an automated system that continuously monitors disinfectant levels. Many food washers work with a variety of different produce, and each of these will consume the disinfectant at different rates. A well-designed system will take this into account.

Reaction times

The monitor should have a fast reaction time, suitable for the process it is controlling. If the pH and chlorine are moving rapidly, the controller needs to be able to adjust the rate of addition rapidly in response.

In this type of application, control loops that focus on deviations from a set disinfection level can yield the best results. Does your process currently do this? If not, you might want to have a word with us.

Improved productivity and traceability

At Prodose we provide advice and practical support in amending or redesigning your food washing systems to maximise productivity and safeguard you and your customers against problems that could occur from variations in disinfectant level.

We don’t represent or get commission from any equipment manufacturers, and therefore we are completely impartial. Another important aspect of our ethos is that we don’t push a “one method fits all” approach. Instead, our aim is to understand your processes and your way of working and come up with improvements and solutions that fit with your specific requirements.

Our experts have a lot of knowledge when it comes to disinfectant technology and associated systems. Is it worth having a conversation and getting the benefit of our experience? We certainly think so: we’ve helped improve many different food processing operations, and we’d be pleased to work with you too.

 

Give us a call and ask to speak to a disinfection expert.

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