I want to talk today about the single-most contributing factor to industrial plants polluting the environment, and wasting precious resources, especially water. That factor is the central waste treat system. Let’s take a closer look.
Part of the architectural/engineering design of any new industrial plant always includes a central waste-treatment collection point and treatment system. In general, all liquid wastes are sent to one common collection area. Once collected various methods of chemical and mechanical treatment are applied. What can be recovered is, and what cannot be is often concentrated and then hauled off as solids.
On the surface, this seems to make sense, but give what this blog has taught about water contamination, the shortcomings of this age-old, accepted process begin to rear their ugly head. The problem you see is that there are man different forms of contamination. Organic and inorganic, dissolved, undissolved, vapor-producing, and both toxic and non-toxic categories.
Once all of these contaminants are thrown together in a conglomeration in a central collection point, many new and advanced reuse and reclaim technologies are rendered ineffective and the industrial plant is resigned to doing a far less effective job of reusing water and resources, and also minimizing discharge.
A much better plant design has each individual industrial process emptying into its own, individual collection point. This design allows far greater application of modern technologies.
As just one example, the rinse-waters used in electroplating are often times dilute solutions containing metals such as chromium, nickel, copper and silver. As dilute rinse-waters, these metals can be recovered and the water reused to 100%. However, once sent to a central waste collection tank, where there might be oil, grease, organics, and industrial sludge, the treatment options for that waste are very limited.
Companies who sell traditional waste-treatment chemicals love the central design because it ties the customer to a life-long addiction to treatment chemicals.
Going into the future, it is imperative that new industrial plants be designed with segregated waste streams. It is only in this way that the full benefit of new reuse and sustainability technologies can be implemented. Click on the link “Smart Plant Design” to get a closer look.