How best to clear the FOG

Distributors have a clear choice to make when they recommend grease treatment systems to foodservice operators for kitchen outfits.

They have to pick between three main options: grease separators, grease removal units (GRU) or biological/bacteria-based dosing systems.

Hydro-mechanical biological systems are small traps usually fitted inside kitchens, sized by using a formula based on sink volume. They are dosed with bacterial solution to reduce food bulk and remove the possibility of anaerobic cultures taking residence in traps.

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GRUs are designed to remove oil by the use of motors and poly rollers with a rubber scraping device. They are not usually air sealed, as a hinged lid is required for daily removal of larger solids. Whereas grease separators work using gravity. Water and oil’s different densities are used to separate them from each other.

British manufacturer Mechline provides the GreasePak drain dosing system and can see advantages in each of the alternatives.

Business development director, Ian Cresswell, commented: “Grease separators can be highly effective but only if they are sized and positioned correctly. Where there is inclusion on specifications for new builds or refurbishments, there is less of an issue.

"However, retro fitting is often difficult or impossible and very expensive. Correct maintenance to ensure optimum performance is key.

“GRUs, like grease traps, will do the job and provide effective reclamation in the process. Key once again is ownership and management at site level. Installations can be difficult if the pipework is not as required to be most effective.”[[page-break]]

He believes that biological/bacteria-based dosing systems avoid many of the issues which can be associated with traps and GRUs and in many situations can be complementary.

He added: “There are, however, big differences in the type and quality of fluid systems, which can make selection by the end user difficult. Buyers should always seek verification on independently qualified claims for efficacy, and to what UK standards they perform to avoid poor performance. The wall-mounted unit offers greater flexibility in achieving the correct sighting of the dosing unit in often cramped kitchen conditions.”

Runcorn-based Aluline produces a range of grease traps and says there are several more sub-types of grease interceptors available. For instance, passive traps are large outdoor traps manufactured from materials such as concrete, GRP, UPVC or stainless steel. “It is important that the integrity of these is such that they cannot leak into water table,” emphasised Aluline’s director, William Clark.

He detailed that bag removal traps contain filter bags and are usually removed and cleaned elsewhere. “There is no sizing detail thus cleaning will be at shorter intervals,” he added.

‘Grease removal by dosing only’ measures a quantity of bacteria into the drainage system. The bacteria produce enzymes to break down organic matter and multiply. “Dosing only will not meet regulations and considering the serious nature of laws dealing with public drains, this is a disaster waiting to happen,” remarked Clark.

He also sees issues with GRUs: “Motors are connected to electricity and this should be in a waterproof case. However as maintenance is carried out this can affect the integrity of the case. The heater in some units can lock on, causing boiling of water in units. As units contain oil and food residue, when boiled dry this can be a problem. Because these units are not air sealed they should not be fitted inside buildings.”

Elsewhere, Martin Allen, project manager of First Choice Environmental Systems, believes that all three main types of systems can bring considerable benefits. “However, the key is in the ongoing maintenance. Grease separators and removal units need to be emptied and cleaned on a regular basis. Dosing systems need to be positioned correctly to achieve maximum results and you need to ensure the dosage levels are set correctly,” he said.

He highlighted that certain sites will generate more grease than others purely by the nature of the type of product they prepare and serve, and that peak times during service will determine the best time to set fluid rates on dosing machines.

“It’s no good dosing overnight when nothing’s going through the drainage system or putting in a grease trap or separator that is too small,” he advised. “Above all, whatever is installed, the ongoing maintenance plan is important to ensure maximum effectiveness of the system installed.” [[page-break]]

First Choice offers the Grease Blast dosing system as part of its Environmental Solutions product range. This can be added to any efficient grease trap or catcher.

Allen explained: “For locations requiring a total onsite solution to food waste disposal, we offer the bespoke Enviropure food waste management system that virtually eliminates FOG. Capable of handling capacities ranging from 240kg up to 6,000kg a day, the system turns solid food waste, including bone and fibrous food waste, into safe grey water that can be sent to drain, or used for irrigation.

“A number of businesses, including multiple operators, have successfully integrated the Grease Blast system as part of their FOG strategy. Enviropure is gaining in recognition with both suppliers and end users and has been specified by a number of leading FCSI consultants. We will be releasing further news on UK live sites shortly, so the outlook is very positive.”

Mechline has also recently launched a new version of its bio-remedial solution, GreasePak, the GreasePak2. Still using the same multi strain grease degrader (MSGD) formulation as previously, the new unit is said to be more compact and incorporates built-in electronic sensor technology (to advise operators when to change the MSGD fluid containers). It is claimed to be easy to install and have a battery life of up to 24 months.

The MSGD is said to offer protection from starch build up, which is a common contributor to blocked drains. According to Cresswell, GreasePak is the only BBA approved product in the UK, which means it can be used instead of a grease trap in being “an effective form of grease removal”. It can also be used in conjunction with grease traps to reduce ongoing maintenance requirements.

“GreasePaK is a low cost option when put against bills for sorting blocked drains and fines,” said Cresswell. “And it is automatic so until the bacteria need replacing, you aren’t reliant on staff cleaning out grease traps or emptying waste collected in a separator.

“In fact, GreasePak so impressed Yorkshire Water in preventing drains clogging, that its network protection manager, Fran Winter, is actually passing on details of GreasePak to business customers it has identified with a FOG problem.” [[page-break]]

Mechline has worked with Vision Commercial Kitchens to resolve FOG problems at the Barton Grange Garden Centre, Lancashire, from its restaurant operation.

The problem occurred because the site was not suitable for excavated grease traps as the building was constructed on infill, so the owners could not dig through the concrete far enough to make this a practical option and had to resort to surface mounted grease traps. However, as the business grew these just couldn’t cope with the onslaught and the drains were continually flooding.

The garden centre stated: “Since we have installed GreasePaK, the problem has abated as the micro-organisms in the solution digest the FOG, allowing the resultant waste water to flow freely down the drain.

"We are now using a combination of GreasePaK and GreasePaK bio bricks to eliminate the problem in the drains and also in the tank and pump station. This means we have been able to completely stop using bleach-based chemicals to clear the FOG, which is good for the environment.”

Manufacturer Winterhalter says that conventional drain cleaners and maintainers based on high alkaline or caustic products can be washed off by cleaning chemicals, and so have minimal contact time with the walls. It believes it has developed a safe, long lasting and efficient enzyme based drain maintainer, A81 BLUe, which uses a blend of non-toxic, natural microbes to clear drains of FOG and other accumulated organic matter.

When A81 BLUe is dosed via the Winterhalter dosing system into a drainage system, it is said to create a biofilm which adheres to the walls to produce a continuous and renewable supply of active enzymes for FOG degradation.

Peter Alsworth, chemical sales director at Winterhalter said: “A81 BLUe is more effective than conventional drain cleaners/maintainers as the biofilm is highly resistant to general cleaning fluids, thus providing longer lasting protection than using high alkaline or caustic based products.”

An installation of the A81 BLUe system comprises a 5litre holster, a battery operated dispensing system, pipe connection and user guide.

Recently Milton Keynes Hospital switched to Winterhalter chemicals supplied by Alliance, from the company’s East Midlands branch. The hospital is using Winterhalter cleaning chemicals for kitchen and restaurant areas as well as the enzyme drain maintainer, A81 BLUe.

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