Industrial Water Treatment Solutions and Why They Are Important
Between them, the nation’s industries consume a vast quantity of water each day and, in many cases, their requirement is for a source that is free of any contaminants that, if present, could have an adverse effect on some essential process. On the other hand, much of that which is utilised each day is likely to accumulate some contaminants that will need to be removed prior to disposal or reuse. Because of these contrasting needs, there is a requirement for differing industrial water-treatment solutions.
The supply to a factory will generally differ little from that delivered to domestic users and may contain concentrations of dissolved substances deemed to be acceptable. However, what may be safe to drink is not necessarily suitable for use in the boilers of many heavy industries, including electricity generation. While the transition to more sustainable energy continues, most power stations still burn fossil fuels to heat their boilers whose performance, without suitable industrial water-treatment solutions, could be seriously impaired as a result of those trace contaminants remaining in the feed water. In hard-water areas, their effect is apparent in the scale that forms in taps and kettles and the need to remove it at regular intervals. Even where hardness is not a problem, scale will just accumulate more slowly in a boiler. Given that those in power stations tend to operate 24/7, the loss of efficiency and the potential for damage have meant that the use of an effective industrial water-treatment solution is essential in conventional power stations. Other industries also employ boilers and, therefore, share the same need.
Of the technologies available for this purpose, reverse osmosis is rapidly emerging as the method of choice with power stations now accounting for 30% of those who routinely rely on it. Like ion-exchange technology, it is able to filter out contaminants at the molecular level and so ensures exceptional purity. What has served to make this the more popular choice between these two industrial water-treatment solutions is the fact that it is more economical, requiring very little electricity to operate while also avoiding the lengthy periods of downtime required to regenerate exhausted ion-exchange resins and the cost of the chemicals necessary to do so. While water purity may not be a mandatory requirement at the input end of an industrial process, the need for purification will often arise at its output. Effluents from various processes frequently contain substances that might present a hazard to ground and surface water when discharged into the environment, so a variety of industrial water-treatment solutions will often be required to ensure these effluents will not pose a threat.
The precise requirement of any given operation will obviously vary according to the nature and concentration of the contaminants present and might include specific chemical treatments to separate them out – and possibly even to recover those that might be of further value such as catalysts and precious metals. Given that South Africa and most countries are now faced with a worsening water crisis, increasingly, it is not safe disposal that is the goal of these industrial water-treatment solutions but rather recovery in order that the treated effluent can be reused. Whatever the primary purpose of processing may be, the net result is that some of the pressure on the dwindling reserves available to the utility companies and municipal treatment plants is lifted. In addition, when that purpose is to reuse the treated effluent, it is an option that could also represent a substantial cost saving for a participating company.
Sedimentation, flocculation, filtration, and disinfection may also form part of an industrial water-treatment solution and each of these has its particular benefits as well as some possible disadvantages. To ensure that any system you might employ is as effective as possible under the conditions in which it is to be used is crucial and thus the design of a suitable system will be best left to an expert. Also, any equipment and materials required need to be of sound quality. Whether your need is to treat feedwater for boilers or to render process effluents suitable for reuse or safe disposal, few companies in South Africa are able to compete with the quality products and the extensive experience of industrial water-treatment solutions that have served to make WaterIcon the preferred supplier to so many discerning local companies.