In Martinique, the Simon distillery focuses on closed-loop water reprocessing

In Martinique, the Simon distillery focuses on closed-loop water reprocessing
In Martinique, the Simon distillery focuses on closed-loop water reprocessing

At Le François, in Martinique, 80% of water needs are now met by internal reprocessing within the Distillerie du Simon. In 2024, halfway through the distillation campaign (over a total period from January 30 to mid-June), 35,000 cubic meters of water, out of a total of 40,000 cubic meters consumed, had been recovered. A performance enabled by the installation of a new machine in 2022, with an investment of 3.2 million euros, and which still needs to ramp up.


“Upstream, the sugar canes must be wetted when they arrive at the factory. The spirits industry, particularly rum, is very water intensive, because the stillage is rejected into enormous retention basins. The distillery releases as much pollution, in the form of chemical oxygen demands, as a town of 20,000 inhabitants., illustrates François Pinasa, the director of the Distillerie du Simon, which notably supplies the Habitation Saint-Etienne (HSE) rum factory. The distillery, which employs 32 people, processes around 37,000 tonnes of cane per year, for a production equivalent to 3.5 million liters of rum at 55 proof.

The distillery encountered a problem with the treatment of stillage. “It’s lagooning and forced aeration, and we were limited by the volume of our ponds. Furthermore, like in a sewage treatment plant, the lagoon smells extremely bad”, continues François Pinasa. The neighborhood complained about the smells. In addition, since 2020, water shortages and drought episodes have tended to accumulate. However, during the production phase, the distillery consumes 50 to 60 cubic meters of water per hour.

No more aqueous discharges at sea

Faced with this situation, the Simon distillery approached Nereus, a company based in Montpellier (Hérault), which has developed a machine for the treatment of methanization digestates. “The idea was to recover water for irrigation, and to facilitate the spreading of slurry”underlines the factory director.

In 2018, the distillery team sent vinasse to Nereus, before meeting them. During the 2020 campaign, Nereus sent a pilot to the distillery, to carry out possible measurements. The investment was made in 2021, for start-up the following year. The stillage passes through filters, through a decanter then into the new station. A large part of the extracted water is returned in a closed circuit to be reused for the treatment of sugar cane. “We no longer have aqueous discharges at sea”welcomes François Pinasa.

This solution also makes it possible to reduce water withdrawals from the distillery, in a context of increased drought. By prefectural decree, it can obtain supplies up to 90,000 cubic meters from the irrigation perimeter in the south-east of Martinique (Pisa), an artificial water reserve, and 40,000 cubic meters from a river. At mid-campaign, in 2024, 12,000 cubic meters were taken from the Pisa, and 1,000 cubic meters from the river.

-

-

PREV Vaud sets an example to improve the use of bark beetle wood
NEXT trapped by the gendarmes, five people arrested after ambushes on Coco