As global water regulations tighten, filtration technologies are evolving to help process industries adapt.
Receding water tables and stricter regulations for the treatment of effluent and wastewater have placed next-generation filtration technologies into the limelight.
According to researcher Frost & Sullivan, these influences have also served to invigorate the market for filtration systems globally.
Industries that are heavy users of water for processing or cooling are “increasingly operating on the basis of zero liquid discharge with an aim to treat wastewater and reuse it for process water applications,” says Vandhana Ravi, energy & environmental research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
While the water filtration market is still dominated by the use of single and dual media filters, Ravi says the multimedia filters segment has been given an additional boost by the expanding practice of wastewater treatment, especially in developing economies in Asia.
You need water to be pumped in for oil removal or fracking, so you could be producing up to 30 barrels of water per barrel of oil
Ovio’s Kaveh Someah
High demand for process water is also lifting the fortunes of cartridge filtration media, although “the high frequency of cartridge replacement will muzzle its growth to some extent”, says Ravi. “Nevertheless, system manufacturers will feel optimistic due to the frenzied industrialisation and consequent demand for high-quality process water,” she says.
This demand will widen the market for multimedia filtration, especially as novel variants in the grades of media enter the market, she adds. Membrane filtration technologies are currently proving most popular for high-purity applications such as biopharmaceutical production, food and beverage production and wastewater reuse (see box on pdf).
While some consider membrane filtration technologies as potential disruptors to existing filtration methods, Ravi predicts that they will in fact create “a surge in the demand for media filtration pre-treatment solutions” rather than displacing them altogether. In energy and process sectors – particularly the oil and gas industries – the demand for water is huge, says Kaveh Someah, vice president of Ovivo’s Energy group.
Ovivo is a global supplier of equipment for drinking and wastewater, as well as ‘ultra pure’ applications used in the pharmaceuticals market. Someah says the company’s core business among oil & gas and power generation customers is raw water treatment.
“These industries use a lot of water for cooling and we supply all types of mechanical filtration and course screening to remove floating debris,” he says.
In raw water from the sea or a lake, debris such as barnacles can be dangerous for process equipment. Zebra mussels are an invasive freshwater species that are becoming a particular problem in a number of countries, he says.
“These come in by truckload, so some of the equipment we supply is tasked with removing aquatic life from the water and returning it to its source,” says Someah. Raw water is also used extensively when drilling for oil and gas, he says.
“You need water to be pumped in for oil removal or fracking, so you could be producing up to 30 barrels of water per barrel of oil,” he says.
“You then need to treat that water to make it suitable for discharge. You also need water in many processes – at the front end and then in the treatment process to remove suspended and dissolved solids.”
All of this growing demand comes amid evolving environmental regulations pushing for water recycling and reuse, and higher standards for treating wastewater. “We are being mandated to use technologies that are environmentally and fish friendly,” says Someah.
“Core technologies must provide filtration while satisfying environmental issues too.”
One company that has recently upgraded filtration systems in response to a shift in environmental requirements is Finlays, a UK manufacturer of decaffeinated and speciality teas. After coming under pressure from local water authorities to reduce Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the wastewater from the decaffeination process, it turned to sieving specialist Russell Finex.
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