Saving Water through Innovative Technology - Mr. Torsten Erwe

Sep 01 2010 Read 2165 Times

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Bayer Technology Services is an expert when it comes to treating wastewater. One of its visions for the future is a means of treating heavily contaminated wastewater streams so effectively that they can be returned to production processes for reuse. A sensible way of using a scarce resource.

Temperatures in excess of 40oC are nothing out of the ordinary in the Negev desert. The dry heat sometimes makes it difficult even to breathe. Particularly for someone like Henner Schlieper who comes from the Rhineland. Schlieper, an engineer, sometimes has to visit this inhospitable part of Israel because that’s where the Ramat Hovav industrial park is located. One of the 22 companies that operate here is Makhteshim Chemical Works (MCW), Israel’s largest producer of crop protection products.

MCW has ordered a plant from Bayer Technology Services (BTS) that will treat heavily contaminated production effluent before it is transferred to the biological wastewater treatment facility. Schlieper is not only supervising the construction of the plant; as Head of Infrastructure Engineering at BTS he was also very involved in planning it. The MCW plant will use Loprox® technology. The product name stands for ‘low-pressure oxidation’. Contaminated wastewater is pumped into a reactor which operates at a temperature of around 220oC and is pressurized up to 30 bar. But these process parameters on their own are not enough to break down the contaminants. Oxygen, a catalyst and a strong acid are added to turn indigestible substances into a tasty meal for the bacteria downstream of the process. The steel reactor in the industrial park will ultimately stand 24 meters tall under the desert sky, and BTS has lined it with acid-fast titanium so that it will withstand the harsh operating environment.

The Loprox® process is not entirely new. The oldest plant using this technology has been running for nearly 25 years – without a hitch so far. More recent facilities treat wastewater from pharmaceutical production in La Felguera, Spain and from dyestuffs production in Cilegon, Indonesia. Continuous improvements to the process mean that Loprox® still has something to offer even today. “We are constantly refining the technology and adapting it to our customers’ specific needs,” Schlieper explains. It is extremely cost-effective compared with other processes, particularly for wastewater that contains high concentrations of contaminants.