What’s on tap for water?

This increasingly precious resource is attracting more attention

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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So Pall was asked to develop and trial an IMS that utilizes microfiltration (MF) and RO systems specially designed to deal with CSM water. Following success with this, Origin early in 2007 contracted Pall to supply a full-scale IMS facility at Spring Gully.

This IMS comprises four MF racks, each containing 56 0.1-µ Microza modules, an RO system, a pre-strainer, chemical dosing, compressed air systems, plus interconnecting pipework and motor control centers.

Although implementation was complicated by the remoteness of the Spring Gully site and the high degree of process customization, the IMS facility was successfully brought online in December 2007. The current production capacity is nine million liters per day (MLD) day, and the IMS can be expanded to support up to 15 MLD.

IMS has already garnered a lot of interest from other sites, both in Australia and North America.

“Note that another new application of this technology is in ethanol production, where lots of water is used to generate the steam required in the distillation process. We are breaking into this market now. It’s not a standard technology on all new ethanol plants, but it is the future technology so we are leading the way here,” adds Wines.

Interest is also burgeoning in the company’s ceramic-based MF units. These allow smaller flocs of bacteria to circulate, resulting is a very clean permeate and thus no need for a clarifying stage.

Singapore success

Meanwhile, Siemens, Erlangen, Germany, which owns USFilter, in June received a $3-million grant from Singapore’s Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI) to develop innovative seawater desalination technology that relies on an electric field to remove salts. The aim is to reduce energy consumption by 50% compared with existing desalination methods. Siemens will use the funding for work at the company’s global R&D center in Singapore.

The process integrates electrodialysis, ion exchange softening and a final desalting step that uses a novel continuous electrodeionization process to drive salt separation with minimum energy demand. EWI’s challenge required demonstration of energy consumption of 1.5 kWh/m3, which is about half of what has been achieved with the best available technology. Operating desalination plants typically consume as much as 10 kWh/m3.

Siemens is also moving ahead on the commercial front. In March, it acquired the Chemitreat Group, Singapore, which had sales of more than $40 million last year, employs 240 people and provides water-treatment technologies and services in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and China.

Cooling water challenges

At many plants, water plays a key role in cooling process streams. Cooling systems routinely are pushed to capacity. When stressed to their technical limits, upset conditions result in expensive operational problems such as scale, corrosion and fouling.

This has offered a growing opportunity to Nalco, Naperville, Ill., for its 3D Trasar (Figure 3). This technology measures key system parameters, detects upsets, takes appropriate corrective action and communicates with system users. According to the company, it provides reliability under high stress operating conditions and delivers the lowest possible total cost of operation (TCO) for cooling operations.

Figure 3. Before and after shots show dramatic improvement provided by scale control program. Source: Nalco Co.

And the numbers back up the claims. For example, the operator of a petrochemical plant in France was struggling to overcome scale and corrosion problems. Implementation of a 3D Trasar program led to use of a more effective corrosion inhibitor and a better control strategy. Visual inspections of heat exchangers and corrosion coupons verified significant improvement: an overall reduction of $206,000/yr. in TCO, including $63,000/yr. in heat exchanger cleaning, retubing and repair costs.

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