Saving Energy, Water & Money with Efficient Water Treatment Technologies

In every corner of the globe, from developing countries to industrialized nations, clean water is essential to sustain life. From providing hydration and nourishment, to lighting up our cities and manufacturing goods, water is the lifeblood of human progress. Population growth leading to an increase in water requirements will also necessitate increased energy requirements, and water and energy are inseparable – water is required to make use of energy, and energy is required to make use of water. The lack of technology, poor management or inefficiencies in one area can affect the sustainability of the other.

Desalination and water reuse in industry has emerged as one of the most important themes in the water sector over the past five years. During the next five years, the technologies associated with salt removal and turning low-quality wastewater and raw water sources into high-quality process water will become an essential part of sustainable economic growth.

The manufacturing industry has the opportunity to play a key role in helping manage water and energy resources. The industrial use of water is one of the largest uses of treated water. Industrial Reverse Osmosis (RO) applications provide water for manufacturing, fabricating, processing, washing, steam generation and cooling, and for incorporating into the products themselves. Consequently, increasing water scarcity has driven companies to seek out both time-tested and new ways to purify water and promote water reuse that are both cost-effective and environmentally conscious.

After nearly 30 years of incremental change in RO technology, predominately focused on improving existing membrane chemistry, water researchers have been able to develop a new, breakthrough polymer chemistry, resulting in best-in-class performance from a new family of RO products. Scientists have reduced the energy required to purify water by focusing both on membrane innovation and the configurational aspects of module design. The building blocks of this new technology are an advanced, thin-film polyamide membrane chemistry and a new, low pressure-drop feed spacer configuration. The upgraded membrane chemistry provides high salt rejection at lower pressures than previously possible, while the new feed spacer is variously deployed to provide either low membrane fouling, low pressure drop, or high packing density.

“The industrial use of water is one of the largest uses of treated water”

These new RO Elements produce demineralized water from contaminated water sources, such as surface water, ground water, treated wastewater effluent, well water or tap water, and offer unparalleled solids rejection and flow performance for industrial water needs. RO membranes now offer the possibility of higher rejection of salts at significantly reduced operating pressures, and therefore, reduced costs. The innovation reduces energy consumption and ion exchange regeneration costs through improved hydraulic balance and lower feed pressure, resulting in operational savings between 16 and 19 percent.

The chemistry breakthrough hinges on re-engineering the polymer structure and composition of the product, while the technological upgrades in the feed spacer of the product ultimately lower energy and chemical consumption. The technology is ideally suited for industrial RO plants and replacement systems, allowing improved energy efficiency across a broad temperature range, operation with low energy membranes which enable savings from lower feed pressure, and offering high value and optimized performance. Resource-efficient Reverse Osmosis membranes are gaining a global presence across a wide range of industries and industrial water applications, including:

  • Power: Improves uptime and reduces chemical use for utility providers;
  • Ultra-Pure Water: Increases the rejection at lower feed pressure to accommodate increasing purity needs for electronic manufacturing;
  • Food and Beverage: Saves on energy use and chemical use and increasing capacity by improving uptime;
  • Mobile Units: Creates highly compact, energy efficient operations with long-lasting performance, which is required in field locations.

Globally, water is required in virtually everything people touch, from growing and processing food to industrial processes and energy production. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN-Water have established that water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. In meeting this global water challenge, Dow Water & Process Solutions is setting a new standard across the industry – with technologies such as FILMTEC™ ECO RO Elements combining exceptional high rejection and flow performance, as well as low energy consumption, to reduce businesses’ ecological and economic footprints. Through innovation, Dow continues to drive the science behind plentiful water supplies, creating economic, environmental and social benefits for customers and communities across the globe.

Zakia Bahjou
Regional Commercial Manager
Dow Water & Process Solutions, Middle East, Africa & Turkey