The Importance of Industrial Wastewater Recycling Is Growing Daily
Even though almost everyone on the planet is aware to some degree that water is essential for the lives of both plants and animals, only a relatively small percentage of the human population appears to be aware of the need to conserve this crucial and increasingly scarce natural resource. Ironically, the explanation for this apparent indifference to what many now view as an impending global crisis may be due to the ease with which those most responsible for its wastage are able to access it. Industrial activity results in huge quantities of wastewater which, in the absence of suitable recycling measures, can not only contribute to higher manufacturing costs, but also to a hastening of the threatened ecological crisis.
Despite such observations, it is not industry that emerges as the biggest consumer of this precious liquid, but agriculture. That said, the farming community is a sector of our society that has long engaged in conservative measures such as the harvesting of rainwater and the reuse of grey wastewater in suitable applications wherever possible. Today, these are practices that are being adopted increasingly by domestic consumers. In the case of industrial wastewater, recycling has become important for several reasons. In the vast majority of cases, manufacturers must source their supply from a municipality just like the domestic consumer and, like the latter; they are faced with regular price hikes that are often quite substantial. It is not feasible to simply pass the increased cost of manufactured goods on to the purchaser, but it can be equally impractical for a factory to attempt to absorb it.
A surprising number of the processes commonly employed for industrial purposes depend upon the use of water which, once it has been used, essentially becomes waste. By recycling it and removing the more harmful contaminants, however, a manufacturer gains the option to re-use a costly processing material that has already been paid for. In fact, this is a conservative policy that can provide a company with an effective hedge against those inevitable increases in the tariff charged for this commodity, and a means to avoid the risk of losing market share when forced to pass on a portion, if not all, of those increases to its consumers.
It is perhaps necessary to differentiate the recycling of industrial wastewater for re-use in a plant from the treatment required to ensure it is sufficiently clean to be safely discharged into the outside environment. In the latter application, it is only necessary to remove those contaminants that might pose a threat to flora and fauna, should they find their way into a stream or an underground aquifer. On the other hand, substances that pose no overt environmental threat could prove to have a detrimental effect on certain factory processes in which it may be used. Depending upon the type of industry and the raw materials used, the type of treatments necessary to achieve the desired effluent quality will vary.
In factories where the recycling of industrial wastewater is undertaken routinely, there is a variety of ways in which the treated end-product can be reused. As well as providing a prepaid source of process water, it can also be used as make-up water for boilers and cooling loops, or to clean machinery and even to top up the reserve supplies called upon by members of a proto team in the event of a fire. Although, the product is non-potable it is perfectly suitable for use in the decorative water features or for the irrigation of lawns that often surround the periphery of a plant to enhance its visual appeal and to provide recreational space for employees.
To determine how best to employ industrial wastewater after the recycling process, a laboratory analysis of the untreated liquid van be the best way to begin. This can normally be carried out by any competent supplier of water treatment solutions. The results of this analysis will serve to identify each of the contaminants present and, in turn, to determine the various processes that will be required to remove those that might interfere with its proposed reuse.
As an expert in water treatment solutions with a reach that extends throughout South Africa and most of the African continent, WaterIcon is a preferred supplier of custom-designed solutions for industrial wastewater recycling and any application in which water quality is a crucial factor.