Powering circular water economy with technology

A. Ehre
IDE Technologies,

Keywords: IWT, Water sustainability, waste water treatment


Growing environmental awareness, rising water access costs, limited water resources, and stricter effluent regulations are leading industries to reduce their water footprint. As wastewater discharge regulations evolve, basic treatment methods and standard recovery rates are no longer sufficient. Comprehensive treatment capable of handling higher salinities and challenging contaminants comes at a cost. Achieving high recovery rates can significantly reduce disposal expenses, providing additional clean water for reuse. However, industrial water treatment is complex due to the chemical nature of these wastewater, limiting the effectiveness of conventional membrane technologies. High recovery treatment often leads to issues like membrane fouling, bio-fouling, and scaling, resulting in decreased membrane performance and increased operational costs for effluent treatment facilities. To address these challenges, IDE has developed two proprietary membrane-based solutions, designed to overcome water chemistry limitations in industrial wastewater treatment, offering the highest recovery rates in the industry through membrane-based processes. Pulse Flow RO (PFRO) technology, is a proprietary, patented method for operating RO water reuse systems. PFRO enables high recovery, high flux, and efficient operation by discharging brine in a pulse flow regime through short, forceful surges. Frequent and rapid changes in osmotic and gauge pressure prevent biofouling formation, and scaling due to reduced induction time in each cycle. PFRO achieves high recovery without scaling and lowers the risk of biofouling. Additionally, its single-stage arrangement reduces allows the implementation of a unique clean-in-operation (CIP) configuration, which keeps the membranes cleal and significantly reduce downtime and CIP frequency. The second high-recovery solution, the patented MaxH2O Desalter introduces a unique reverse osmosis (RO) process that operates at exceptionally high recovery rates up to the osmotic pressure limit. MaxH2O eliminates water chemistry limitations by recirculating treated water through the RO system at high velocity, while continuously precipitating supersaturated salts from the recirculated brine. This innovative solution combines established membrane technology with an integrated salt precipitation unit, effectively mitigating the drawbacks of each technology separately. The MaxH2O Desalter excels in handling variable feed-flow and composition changes and effectively manages calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, and silica precipitation. It can be integrated as a standalone solution or as part of a complete Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) or Minimal Liquid Discharge (MLD) system to minimize brine volumes, produce high-quality permeate for process reuse, and comply with discharge regulations. Both MaxH2O and PFRO solutions have demonstrated significant success across various industries. PFRO was successfully implemented by a semiconductor manufacturer, enabling an additional 54% recovery from the upstream treatment system brine, for an overall recovery rate of 88%. The Cherokee Metropolitan District's wastewater treatment plant adopted the PFRO system to comply with regulations and achieve an exceptional 90% recovery rate. In an era where water sustainability and environmental responsibility are paramount, such technologies have emerged as game-changers in achieving a circular water economy. These innovations transcend conventional membrane limitations, offering industries higher recovery rates, efficient wastewater treatment, reduced disposal costs, additional clean water for reuse, and environmental stewardship, signifying the transformative power of technology in safeguarding water resources and ensuring a sustainable future.