Implementing a safe & cost effective alkali dosing solution

for winery wastewater pH correction

Michael Walsh \ September 1, 2020
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ACTI-Mag corrected pH in acid winery waste, without increasing salinity and improved safety standards at vineyards in NSW, Australia.

case study summary

  • Sustainable operation of a woodlot using winery wastewater and keeping within pH & salinity limits.
  • Finding a safe and cost effective alternative to ammonia for pH control.
  • To correct pH in acid winery waste, without increasing salinity.
  • Improve safety standards.

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Calix introduced ACTI-Mag to a winery in Morquong NSW, as a safe and cost-effective alternative to ammonia for pH adjustment in wastewater.

ACTI-Mag is a highly stable slurry, that flows readily and can be easily dosed in winery wastewater treatment systems.

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Benefits of ACTI-Mag

Displacement of anhydrous ammonia allows elimination of a significant site safety hazard.

In comparison to ammonia, ACTI-Mag is safe to use, earth-friendly and a cost-effective solution for pH control.




Situated in the Southern Murray Darling Region of Australia, this winery operates over 2400 hectares of vineyards, as well as a large scale winery. Their production is sold to domestic and global wine businesses as well as bottled into the company’s own branded product.

This winery is a firm advocate for sustainable wine production through a range of initiatives which deliver both financial and environmental benefits for the business.

They seek to assist in reversing agriculture’s adverse contribution to Australia’s environment by applying regenerative and sustainable farming practices to improve soil health and increase biodiversity.

The healthy soils lead to increased moisture and nutrient retention which creates resilience to harsh climatic events. The increased microbial diversity improves air flow and limitscarbon respiration back into the atmosphere.



The irrigation of winery effluent onto woodlots is a common practice in Australian wineries. This waste stream is typically acidic, particularly during the vintage processing period, requiring alkali dosing before discharge.

The widespread use of caustic (sodium hydroxide) or potassium caustic (potassium hydroxide) for Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems within wineries, contributes a significant salt load to the effluent stream. This means neither are good choices for winery effluent pH correction.

To avoid the addition of salinity, the winery was using direct injection of anhydrous (gaseous) ammonia at their Buronga Winery.

However, this requires the management of a pressurised gas that is flammable, toxic, causes severe burning to eyes, skin & the respiratory tract and is also potentially hazardous to aquatic life.

The winery was not comfortable with this and were looking for an environmentally friendly alternative.





The winery readily agreed to a trial to start dosing ACTI-Mag during the 2020 Vintage (from March to late May 2020).

ACTI-Mag is a highly reactive slurry of magnesium hydroxide Mg(OH)2. ACTI-Mag is produced by Calix – using its uniquely high surface area magnesium oxide (MgO) as a 60% solids water-based slurry. The magnesium hydroxide solids in the slurry have a low solubility and high surface area allowing it to flow easily.

ACTI-Mag also provides more CaCO3 equivalent alkalinity, on an equal weight basis when compared to caustic soda, which lowers chemical consumption. With a pH of around 10.3 compared to a pH of 14 for 50% caustic soda (NaOH), ACTI-Mag provides greater than 60% more alkalinity than caustic soda.

This lower pH also means ACTI-Mag can be handled safely. It is non-hazardous and non-corrosive, with minimal personal protective equipment (PPE) required. Magnesium hydroxide, also known as ‘milk of magnesia’, is a common component of antacids, which further highlights the safety of the product.

On the contrary, anhydrous ammonia is a gas which has to be dissolved to become a useful alkali. The ammonia gas must be contained, as any leak is toxic and corrosive. It is usually sparged into a recirculation line to dissolve it. This can cause a lot of vibration and noise as it violently
reacts and dissolves.

They were very happy with the performance of ACTI-Mag for pH correction and felt far more comfortable with handling a safe alkali.


The adoption of ACTI-Mag dosing will enhance site safety and reduce salinity and sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) of treated effluent irrigated on the woodlot. The use of ACTI-Mag, a ‘slow burn’ solid based alkali, results in increased process stability against pH upsets in the neutralisation pH buffer tank & downstream irrigation tank due to residual magnesium hydroxide solids.

Although their key issue was safety, an added benefit of replacing anhydrous ammonia with ACTI-Mag was avoiding the explosive vibration on injection, which can cause a lot of wear and tear on the pipework and attached support structures/walkways.

Calix is working with the plant operator to assist in the custom-design and installation of a storage and dosing system, to help achieve further cost savings, while providing an easy-to-manage and controlled permanent dosing solution.

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We can help you review and optimise your wastewater process to make sure your system is running smoothly and cost effectively.

Calix leverages a culture of innovation to provide fully customised services such as design, engineering, installation, piping and commissioning services to provide turnkey systems for chemical dosing.

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