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Innovative Water Management Re–Circulation and Re–Use: How Smart Water Comes to Life

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Water re-circulation and re-use are two crucial aspects of ‘smart water’ – How well does the industry manage water resources? The general tendency today is to take a holistic systems approach. More process water is being re-circulated and industrial producers are recovering reusable substances and water treatment chemicals. Companies are also taking a new approach to effluent management.

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Wastewater treatment plant: Effluents from various production facilities at the site are treated to the maximum extent possible and then reused as process water.
Wastewater treatment plant: Effluents from various production facilities at the site are treated to the maximum extent possible and then reused as process water.
(Source: depositphotos.com/dmitrimaruta)

Industrial water consumption is not free. Inlet water normally needs to be conditioned, and treatment costs money. Circulation pumps consume energy. Post-treatment is also normally required so that water can be re-circulated or discharged into receiving watercourses.

For cost and environmental reasons, it is advantageous to reduce water movement, water heating and water contamination, and this is where industrial water management has a role to play. The goal is to supply water at a defined quality level while keeping the costs (including disposal) under control.

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Production and Technology Closely Related for Water

Technological complexity is lower in regions where there is an abundance of water compared to other parts of the world where water is scarce, making every drop that enters the process a precious commodity.

Whatever the water supply situation, production and water technology are always closely interrelated, creating the need for integrative technologies and water management systems.

Water Recycling and Elimination of Production Effluent

According to a paper published in March 2014 by ProcessNet position on the trends and outlook in industrial water technology, ‘Off–the–shelf’ industrial water management does not exist. Tailored strategies are required for the specific industry, application and site.

Water recycling based on re-circulation of process water is normally only a viable option if contamination levels are low and water treatment is relatively inexpensive. Experts say that water recycling is less efficient for waste streams that are highly contaminated and/or contain substances that have a diverse range of chemical and physical properties.

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