Cost savings at Penrice from reduced reliance on mains water

Cost savings at Penrice from reduced reliance on mains water


Penrice is the only Australian manufacturer of Soda Ash - a vital ingredient in products from glass containers to pharmaceuticals.


  • Client

    Penrice Soda Holdings

  • Technology

    Desalination using Reverse Osmosis membranes

  • Location

    Osborne, South Australia

  • Commissioned

    Jul 2010

  • Project Scale

    Upgrade 1.1 ML/d; Original plant 3.75ML/d

Challenge Back in 2006, Penrice was one of South Australia’s largest industrial users of mains water. So reducing reliance on costly potable supplies and increasing self reliance for process water supply through the use of alternative, less expensive bore water continues to be a key business objective for the company. Penrice had access to a saline aquifer (5000 - 6000mgL Total Dissolved Solids) that lies beneath Adelaide. Extraction of this water is subject to strict environmental monitoring. The aquifer has high iron levels and this problem needed to be dealt with to make the water suitable for process needs at Penrice. By 2010 the production of pharmaceutical grade products resulted in an increasing need for water of potable standard. A second aquifer, less saline than the original was deemed suitable as a feed water source. Osmoflo’s challenge was to treat and deliver this with considerable cost savings to the alternative mains water option.

Solution In May 2006 Osmoflo reduced mains water dependency at Penrice by 65% through the installation of an advanced, expandable reverse osmosis desalination plant. A reverse osmosis process with direct feed was used to resolve iron fouling problems and produce high quality water that required only minor polishing for an existing downstream demineralisation system. The plant provides 3.75 megalitres a day (ML/d) of high purity water and is built with infrastructure in place that allows easy installation of a fourth process train. Close monitoring of the aquifer since start-up in 2006 has proved that this operation is fully environmentally sustainable. In 2010, a new plant was added, drawing feed water from the second, less saline aquifer - a project that was executed in just eight weeks. It produces 1.1ML/d of potable quality water. Osmoflo has extended its original Build Own Operate contract to cater for this new plant which has been fully integrated into existing operations.

Result The two Osmoflo installations have provided Penrice with a sustainable, secure replacement for mains water at a significantly lower cost and taken Penrice well down the road toward complete self reliance in water. Additional savings are also being achieved in operations. When fed with mains water the Penrice downstream demineralisation plant used to regenerate daily. Now that takes place once every two to three months. Under the BOO arrangement Osmoflo is fully responsible for plant operations and water supply in quantity and quality as agreed, thus

Penrice Soda Holdings is the only soda ash production facility, located on the Port River in Osborne, South Australia.