Results of the IMPROVED project: reuse of process water

Posted on 24 Jun 2020

In 2016, the IMPROVED project started, in which it was investigated how the industrial water cycle could be better closed in order to reduce the fresh water demand of the industry. A mobile installation was developed to study water purification and the influences on the industrial process.

Mobile IMPROVED installation

Until now, mainly fresh surface water has been used for various industrial processes. An alternative water source or reuse of one's own wastewater can spare fresh water reserves. However, this requires sufficient purification to ensure that the process is not damaged by contaminants in the water. The use of contaminated water could for example lead to corrosion, contamination of cooling towers, microbial growth, ...
In the IMPROVED project, a portable research installation was built and tested. With the mobile installation, the entire water treatment process of pre-treatment and desalination can be simulated. The influence of the obtained water quality on the process in which the water will be used is immediately simulated in the installation, without having to intervene in the real process. The project was realised with European support from Interreg Vlaanderen - The Netherlands.

Testing at Yara, BASF and Dow

The first test period of the IMPROVED installation took place at plastic knife manufacturer Yara, in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands. The purpose of this test was to reduce the incoming water and also to recover present components in the production process. The best results for water reuse were achieved by means of membrane distillation. To be able to reuse the ammonia present in this stream, a combination of stripping and an ion exchanger gives the most promising results.
After this, the installation was placed at BASF Antwerpen. They made the switch from drinking water to surface water a few years ago in order to reduce their drinking water intake. However, more organic contaminants end up in the process water, which can cause a lot of problems in the process. Reverse osmosis and ion exchange turned out to be the most suitable purification techniques, whereby reverse osmosis resulted in the best removal of organic contaminants. 
Finally, at Dow Terneuzen, the purification of condensate steam into demineralised water was investigated. Treatment with a cation resin mixed bed (SAC-MB) worked very well here to remove contaminants from the water.

logo's - partners interreg project


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