Water Briefs

Dec. 1, 2012
Collection of industrial water news headlines.

EPA Compiles Best Management Practices for Water Use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) WaterSense program has created WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities, a compilation of best management practices to help commercial and institutional facilities better manage their water use through efficient practices and products.

Building owners and managers can significantly reduce their water use, energy requirements, and operating costs by understanding how to use water more efficiently in their facilities. America's commercial and institutional facilities use 17 percent of the water provided by the nation's public water supplies, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

WaterSense at Work addresses water use in educational facilities, offices, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, laboratories, and other organizations. The online resource includes in-depth sections covering:

• Water management planning
• Water use monitoring and education
• Sanitary fixtures and equipment
• Commercial kitchen equipment
• Outdoor water use
• Mechanical systems
• Laboratory and medical equipment
• Onsite alternative water sources

According to McGraw-Hill Construction's Water Use in Buildings SmartMarket Report (2009), business benefits of water efficiency include reduced water use (15 percent), decreased energy use (10 to 11 percent), and reduced operating costs (11 to 12 percent).

WaterSense at Work presents numerous tactics for businesses and organizations to achieve water, energy, and operational savings, as well as case studies on different types of facilities that have achieved savings by using water efficiently.

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Since the program's inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save 287 billion gallons of water and more than $4.7 billion in water and energy bills. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/watersense.

Report finds Growing Number of Patents For Water Treatment for Shale Gas Extraction

A new report from energy and water industry research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance finds that technology innovation targeted toward wastewater treatment from shale gas operations has escalated rapidly, with more than 300 patents filed in 2011 alone.

The report, based largely on data collected by patent landscape research firm CambridgeIP, examined the evolution of shale gas water treatment technologies, and investigated the important players in this rapidly evolving field.

"Water treatment for shale gas is a dynamic and increasingly valuable technology space, yet still at a relatively early stage of development. In common with other young technology markets, we observe transfer and adaptation of technologies from other industries -- in this case from utilities water treatment and the desalination space. As the market matures, we expect increased development of water treatment technologies specific to shale gas extraction. As the advantages of the different technology solutions become apparent, we would expect increased venture capital and M&A activity," said Ilian Iliev, CEO of CambridgeIP.

CambridgeIP identified 632 patent filings dealing with shale gas water treatment of produced water, preparation of the fracking fluid and recycling of the produced water.

"The water treatment technology related to shale gas extraction spans a unique combination of technology requirements relating to the recycling of the fracking fluid and moving of the recycled water between wells. There are many exciting technology developments which we are tracking in this space, such as mobile water treatment solutions and the application of new desalination technologies," said Helena van der Vegt, leading CambridgeIP's water technology research.

For more information on the report, visit www.cambridgeip.com/water.

Businesses See Increased Water Risk But Boardrooms Slow To Act

There is a sharp rise in company reports of detrimental impacts from drought and other water-related issues, yet little change in the number of companies with board level oversight of water strategies and no increase in the number of corporations providing transparent water-related risk assessments to investors. These are some of the key findings from global analysis of the largest listed companies released by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

The CDP Global Water Report, prepared by Deloitte, is produced for 470 investors representing $50 trillion in assets and is based on information submitted to CDP by 185 Global 500 companies. The 2012 report reveals that over half of companies (53% up from 38% in 2011) have experienced negative impacts from water-related challenges including water scarcity, flooding, rising compliance costs, regulatory uncertainty and poor water quality in the past five years.

This has likely helped catalyze the growing awareness of water risk, with a jump from 59% to over two thirds (68%) of companies viewing water as a substantial risk to their business. Corporations perceive these risks as real and current, stating that the majority (62%) have the potential to impact their businesses by 2017.

While reported risks and opportunities have risen notably in comparison to 2011 response rates, companies citing board-level oversight of their water-related policies, strategies or plans has increased by just 1% to 58%. Furthermore, the percentage of firms responding to the investor request for water information through CDP remains the same as last year at 60%, while the proportion with concrete targets or goals in areas such as water efficiency and quality improvements has decreased from 57% last year to 55%.

The CDP Global Water Report 2012 and public company responses are available to download at the CDP website, www.cdproject.net.

Cooling Tower Upgrade Helps Reduce Water Usage

Nestlé USA's Pizza Division factory in Little Chute, Wis., not only produces some of the best-selling frozen pizza brands in the U.S.- DiGiorno®, Jack's®, California Pizza Kitchen® and Tombstone® - it also produces outstanding results when it comes to water efficiency and related operational savings.

The Little Chute plant has reduced its water usage by 7.4 million gallons per year by increasing the performance and efficiency of its cooling towers with help from GE's advanced water-treatment chemical technology.

As a result of these improvements, the facility has earned GE's Return on Environment Award. The award recognizes a company for significantly surpassing and improving environmental and operational goals while balancing industrial demands.

Industrial cooling water must meet tight specifications, but Little Chute's city water is challenging because of its hardness and alkalinity. Standard chemical treatments were unable to treat it adequately because high concentrations produced scaling in the cooling towers, which decreased cooling efficiency and required additional maintenance. Also, an older control system made consistent control of the cooling operation difficult, and it couldn't be integrated with plant data systems.

GE provided its GenGard™ water-treatment chemistry with stress tolerant polymer (STP) and TrueSense™ controls for the plant's four main ammonia condensers. These products provide precise control of cooling water and enable more cycles where the water-treatment chemicals are in the high concentrations needed for optimum results.

As a result, the cooling water at Little Chute is reused to a much greater degree than before, saving 7.4 million gallons of water and reducing sewer discharges by the same amount. This translates into nearly $50,000 in cost savings from avoided water purchase costs and discharge fees.

"One of our sustainability goals here at Nestlé is to continuously improve water efficiency across our operations and reduce water withdrawals," said Louis Miller, utilities supervisor at Nestlé Pizza Division Little Chute. "Improving the efficiency of the cooling towers is a big step towards achieving that goal."

Kevin Cassidy, chemical and monitoring solutions (CMS) general manager-water and process technologies for GE Power & Water adds, "Nestlé USA's commitment shows that, increasingly, what's good for the environment also can be good for business. They've proven that being environmentally conscious can improve operating efficiency, conserve scarce natural resources and lead to improved capacity and healthier profit margins. Nestlé's leadership has set an example for others to aspire to and follow."

Company Orders Produced Water Evaporation System for SAGD

Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies has been awarded the supply of a Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) produced water evaporator system for one of the largest heavy oil producers in Canada.

The SAGD technology will be used to produce 40,000 barrels of bitumen per calendar day (bbl/cd) for the oilfield located in Northern Alberta. The resulting produced water from production, after de-oiling, will be further treated with the HPD evaporator technology from Veolia. Clean distillate from the HPD evaporators will provide boiler feed water to the steam generation system.

The patented Silica Sorption™ process will be utilized as a solution to reduce chemical consumption as well as provide flexible disposal options of the resulting evaporator blowdown by operating at a lower pH level. Using a unique method, the process minimizes fouling of the heat transfer surfaces by causing silica to adsorb on Silica Sorption™ seed crystals rather than precipitating on heat transfer surfaces. In addition, this provides robustness against hardness and oil & grease spikes in the produced water.

The HPD evaporator system is designed as a fully modular system, including all major process and ancillary equipment. This greatly reduces field installation time as well as the associated costs and complexity during construction at this new well site.

Inland Empire Paper Co. Commissions Advanced Water Treatment Facility

Inland Empire Paper Company (IEP) and AlgEvolve Inc. have commissioned an Advanced Water Treatment System at the IEP facility located in Millwood, Wash. This biological water treatment system was patented and developed by Montana-based AlgEvolve to remove phosphorus, nitrogen, and other constituents without the use of strong chemicals. The partnership between IEP and AlgEvolve demonstrates IEP's long and established commitment to environmental stewardship and the pursuit of innovative solutions to solve the challenges of water treatment.

"Inland Empire Paper is always on the forefront of seeking and using technology to lessen our environmental impact. In order to meet the most stringent water quality requirements in the country, we have looked extensively at 10 different technologies. " noted Doug Krapas, Environmental Manager at IEP.

"The AlgEvolve Advanced Biological Nutrient Recovery™ technology demonstrated the unique ability to meet and exceed our challenging requirements. This technology has demonstrated significant advantages over other systems, such as chemical precipitation, as it eliminates the use of chemicals and the disposal challenges of chemical sludge. Rather, it is a carbon sequestration process, producing oxygen and algae byproducts" Krapas said.

The AlgEvolve biological nutrient recovery technology uses the production of algae to naturally consume nutrients in a water stream. Through this process three valuable products are produced: clean water suitable for reuse; pure oxygen; and a potentially valuable algae biomass which has demonstrated uses for a number of applications including bio-plastics, fuel and agricultural feed ingredients.

"All we are doing is mimicking what nature does. When you look at a flowing stream, you are looking at nature's way of cleaning water. We are duplicating this in a controlled environment using all natural processes. The algae we use is already present in every wastewater treatment facility we have investigated and it efficiently cleans up excessive nutrients," said Mike McGowan, Vice President of Technology at AlgEvolve.

In addition to recovering nutrients from the water, the production of algae also consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.

"We believe water is the oil of the 21st Century. The problem over the next 50 years is clearly defined and twofold: first, there is rising demand for clean water, and second, there is a lack of environmentally friendly solutions to meet this increasing demand," said Jordan Lind, CEO of AlgEvolve. "Our commitment to advanced water treatment will help meet this demand."

Low Temperature Distillation Technology Offers Lower Energy Water Treatment

Watersolutions recently released its LTD system, a patented, thermal process for seawater desalination based on the principle of low temperature distillation. The system can condense water at low temperature and pressure, using waste heat (50-110° C) from thermal processes including renewable energy sources such as solar energy or geothermal energy.

The system requires significant amounts of low grade waste heat (6 - 30 MW), which can be derived from any source including thermal power plants, district cooling systems, general industry, mining and waste incineration. It can either work alongside other technologies or as a standalone plant. The configuration is determined by the customer's needs and the availability of waste heat. A pilot plant in El Gouna, Egypt, with a design capacity of 500 cubic meters per day, has proven the principle, with very pure water being produced reliably and efficiently.

While investment costs (CAPEX) associated with LTD are very competitive, the major savings are in operating costs (OPEX) excluding depreciation, which are projected at only 1/3 -1/2 of existing processes. Unlike conventional desalination technologies, where the main cost is related to energy usage, the LTD process uses low grade waste heat that cannot be used otherwise.

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