News > MSE Systems delivers environmental success for Branston Potatoes

21 February 2012

Branston Potatoes’ Lincoln site and the South West site near Illminster have installed a radical new method of water treatment which provides both operational savings and delivered enhanced environmental benefits. Both water treatment projects were constructed by Derbyshire based MSE Systems.

The cleaning and packing of potatoes has a high water usage which brings with it  significant economic and environmental issues.

Branston needed a safe method to recycle the water rather than continuously drawing water from a borehole and contacted the water treatment plant supplier MSE Systems for a solution.

Membrane BioReactor

MSE Systems supplied a complete water treatment plant, based on a Membrane BioReactor (MBR), which adequately achieved the customer’s requirements.

MBRs combine activated sludge treatment with a membrane liquid-solid separation process. The membrane component uses low pressure microfiltration and eliminates the need for conventional clarification techniques and tertiary filtration.

The process of recycling the wash water is complex as the water has to be purged not only of the inevitable soil content but also of the nitrogen and phosphorus within it from fertilizers and from organic contamination. Other aspects of repeated water use such as chemical build up were anticipated and these were dealt with through granulated activated carbon absorption. The filtering and treatment process includes solids separation, aeration, carbonaceous oxidation and nitrification, final membrane filtering, granulated activated carbon absorbsion, ultra-violet treatment and chilling to 10oC prior to re-use.

Laboratory equipment monitors the system and analyses the water which confirms environmental compliance and provides data to operate the plant.
Up to 90% of water at the South West site is now recycled, with any waste being safe to return to the public sewer system.

The MBR system is in delicate balance because the anoxic tank has zero oxygen, or anoxic conditions, being neither anaerobic nor aerobic. Nitrates within the suspension are converted to gaseous Nitrogen and lost to the atmosphere.

Organic elements are also completely removed by the process.  The resulting ‘clean’ solid sludge is deposited to a trailer for distribution to local farms.

The membrane tank is approximately 2.5m long x 2.5m wide and houses one membrane tower comprising four  Mitsubishi Sterapore™ SUR hollow fibre membrane modules. High area ratio gives low hydraulic flux rates thus maximising membrane life. The plant has a current throughput of 160m3/day.
The fully oxidised and zero solids permeate allows for clean effluents which can often be reused.

Visualisation and automation

The control and automation of the plant was undertaken on behalf of MSE Systems by InControl Systems using Wonderware technology.
Using  Wonderware InTouch SCADA and data collection, with PLC control. The InTouch SCADA which visualises the entire system was used in plant tuning as well as continuous monitoring of plant operation. As this system was already applied at the Lincoln site, the South West site was integrated to the country-wide automation architecture.

An integrated information service

MSE Systems knew that their MBR water treatment installations would require continuous monitoring to provide optimum performance as well as numerous other monitoring and remote access requirements, this was all integrated bu Incontrol  to produce the ‘MyMSE’ Server Architecture.
MyMSE which is based upon Wonderware System Platform technology has allowed master objects to be developed for such applications. This has the effect of project development and commissioning time being reduced.

Detailed trend displays are available to all users,

This centralised / client site architecture, especially with remote access to the plant, has streamlined development and is stated to have reduced engineering call-outs by up to 90%.


Master template objects can be updated and the resultant changes deployed remotely; thus MSE Systems are also to respond to any client site plant and control problem by instantly being aware of an issue and also by periodically monitoring particular aspects of the plant from a long term view of availability.

Customer benefit

Branston’s General Manager at the South West site said, “The system provided by MSE Systems and the information technology from InControl takes care of management expectations for the water treatment plant”. Ian added that he has web access to the system at any time and from any location.

Authorised users automatically obtain their required selection of reports by email.

The system also records use of the site’s borehole water abstraction and produces reports and readings that used to ensure that the site is within their Environmental Agency’s license. Furthermore a complete overview of water inputs and outputs to the site, which is measured by flow meters, is automatically maintained in the site’s history and corresponding trend displays.

Branston’s Development Project Manager, said “ the system met with all requirements and that it delivered significant business benefits in utility saving, in meeting retailer’s environmental expectations and in the smooth running of the site. The company has announced that, “By working with several local agencies, we have successfully created a water recycling unit which, after just a few months of being up and running, is reducing our mains water usage by an incredible 52%!”

Steve Dury, project manager at the council, said, "Water consumption is something that farmers are becoming very aware of.” The water recycling plant is part of a larger commitment by Branston to make it more sustainable. It follows the success of Branston's site in Lincolnshire where a water recycling plant and anaerobic digestion plant have been installed.

Further information available from MSE Systems Tel: 01246 861166