Reverse Osmosis slashes annual fuel costs at Westons Cider by £44,000 – and nets joint industry award for Westons and Spirax Sarco

Westons Cider has cut its annual fuel costs by £44,000 per annum and has significantly reduced water consumption following the installation of a Spirax Sarco Reverse Osmosis (RO) water treatment system. The savings achieved led to Westons Cider and Spirax Sarco being named joint winners of Food Processing magazine’s Energy Management award in 2014.

The Spirax Sarco RO system reduces fuel and energy consumption by cutting the amount of boiler blowdown and water needed. Regular boiler blowdown prevents total dissolved solids (TDS) from accumulating in the boiler, where they can cause problems such as carryover and deposits. The RO system from Spirax Sarco treats water before it reaches the boiler feedtank and removes more than 98% of TDS to produce high-quality, low-conductivity water. This has cut blowdown from 3% to less than 1%, resulting in the saving of fuel, water and boiler treatment chemicals.

The installation of the RO plant, together with other improvements to the water treatment regime at the Weston’s site, has resulted in significant improvements to the quality and dryness of the steam produced. As a result, the steam now contains more energy, meaning less steam is needed, which is contributing to the fuel and water savings at the plant.

The project has shown a step-change in control and efficiency and has enabled an increase in the boiler cycles of concentration, resulting in reduced boiler make up and boiler blowdown.

In fact, the RO-treated water is so clean that it has removed the build-up of deposits from the boiler, reducing the number of man hours needed to maintain the boiler, especially ahead of its annual insurance inspection.

Westons Cider’s engineering manager, Jason Roberts, comments: “Before the RO system was installed, it would take our engineer approximately three days to strip down the boiler ready for its annual insurance inspection, do any work needed, then put it back together again and get it steaming.  Following the installation of the RO system, it now takes a little over a day.”

The Westons Cider site in Much Marcle, Ledbury, makes cider and perry. The 2,500kg/h boiler produces steam for various process duties, including CIP and steam sterilising filters for production. “Westons is a very environmentally conscious company,” says Mr Roberts. “When Spirax Sarco suggested that installing RO could save boiler blowdown water we were very interested. The installation was quick and easy and the RO system is compact. We’re very pleased with the results and we may well consider using RO again in other applications.”

For more information on Spirax Sarco’s Reverse Osmosis system, or any of its water treatment products or services, email

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