What’s on tap for water?

This increasingly precious resource is attracting more attention

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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Another example is a Gulf Coast chemical plant where calcium phosphate fouling in one critical heat exchanger led to a $250,000 revenue loss. After implementing a 3D Trasar program, total inorganic phosphate was reduced by 50% to 10 ppm from 20 ppm and the critical heat exchanger operated at near-design cleanliness for 11 months. This led to record production runs for the unit through the hottest months of the summer — boosting revenue by more than $250,000 — and an elimination of semi-annual cleanings.

In recognition of these and other successes, the White House honored 3D Trasar technology with a 2008 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

Continued role for chemicals

Meanwhile, the traditional industrial-water treatment-chemicals market remains healthy. Palo Alto, Calif. revenues should grow from $2.3 billion in 2006 to $2.8 billion in 2013, according to the most recent market analysis in North America by Frost & Sullivan (F&S).

“The Clean Water Act gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to implement pollution control programs by setting strict standards for wastewater discharged from industries,” says  K. Deepan Kannan, F&S research analyst. “This is expected to minimize the effect of effluent discharge on the environment, while increasing the need for industrial water treatment chemicals.”

The report notes that, despite the availability of more advanced technologies, water treatment chemicals stand out for their cost efficiency.

This conclusion undoubtedly resonates with suppliers, which include some of the largest chemical companies.

BASF Specialty Chemicals, Ludwigshafen, Germany, offers a range of treatment chemicals including complexing agents, defoamers and biocides. For instance, its Trilon B complexing agents can remove deposits of calcium sulphate, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate and other sparingly soluble salts that form scale in boilers, evaporators, heat exchangers and filters.

Meanwhile, DuPont, Wilmington, Del., provides a chemical to rehabilitate the flow efficiency of water wells. Typically, efficiency decreases with time. According to the company, its glycolic acid is being used extensively in such wells because it can remove hard water scale caused by calcium, magnesium and manganese salts, along with various iron deposits and polysaccharide deposits. And, compared to rival treatments, it reportedly boasts low corrosion to metal parts in wells, low toxicity and odor and ease of handling.

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