Wastewater Laundry Operations (Part 1) Changes, improvements in systems over past decade

Published on by in Case Studies

Wastewater Laundry Operations (Part 1) Changes, improvements in systems over past decade

Water reuse systems have been applied to centralized and decentralized scales, and water has been reused for a wide range of activities, such as agricultural/land application, commercial/industrial processes, toilets, and even potable water. 

To keep costs down, industry is shifting focus toward reuse systems that are fully automated, have minimal operator requirements, require few chemicals and use semi-permanent filters.

And as wastewater treatment systems improve, laundry and linen services are making use of them to drive down costs and be more environmentally responsible.

Part 1 of this four-part series looks at changes and improvements in systems over the past decade.


Chad Folkerts, vice president of field operations and engineering at Norchem Corp., a chemical solutions/water technologies company based out of Los Angeles, says that over the past 10 years water recycling systems have become much more efficient, are utilizing remote access and machine intelligence for trouble shooting, and more automating of the process requires minimal interaction from an operator.

“Systems are now using a fraction of the energy required to recycle the same amount of water, which adds to the savings an operation will realize,” he shares. “With the increased efficiency comes a lower capital cost, which when combined with the savings, results in a much more attractive ROI for the customer. 

“Some operators may have looked at the technology five years ago and it did not make sense financially, but now with more efficient systems and lower capital cost for the same recycling capacity, the same operator may find the technology make great financial sense.”

Overall system designs have evolved to help maximize heat recovery and reduce water consumption by utilizing current plant infrastructure and washer designs, says Folkerts. Based on the design of a plant and the washers being utilized, he says Norchem has seen “fresh water” reductions on a conventional wash floor of up to 80%, with an 80% reduction in water heating cost.

Folkerts goes on to say that automation and machine intelligence continue to advance to help improve the efficiencies and ease of operation of the systems. 

“We have systems that require no operator interface,” he points out. “Once the system is started, it will filter and recycle wastewater, automatically clean when required, and then automatically start up when required based on wastewater levels throughout the system. 

“Our NorVision machine monitoring system allows operators to see everything happening throughout the system. Troubleshooting guides will pop up on the screen if an alarm is present to help walk them through, step-by-step, for any alarm. The system also acts as a CMS system notifying operators when it is time to perform preventative maintenance. The systems will also automatically send text messages or e-mail reports or alarms to key plant personnel when required.”

Bob Fesmire, president of Ellis Corp. in Itasca, Illinois, a manufacturer of washing technology with a wastewater division, says that in the past decade, wastewater systems in the laundry industry have shifted from traditional treatment for city compliance to a heavy focus on recycling water, which allows for heat capture and contaminant removal so that the most amount of water remains in the building for repurposing. 

“The drivers for this shift come as utility costs consistently rise and municipalities lower the levels for the contaminants they are willing to accept and treat,” he says. “Few end users have real estate available in their facility (do you ever see large, unused spaces in an industrial laundry?), so all new solutions are required to be as compact as they can.” 

In addition to this, Fesmire says that all treatment options need to be able handle variable contaminant loading in the waste and differences in compliance limits throughout the country.