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Strategies to Minimize Wastewater Discharge

By William A. Shaw and Jeffrey D. Brosdal, Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies |

As regulatory issues, environmental sensitivity, and longterm water supply concerns increase, the chemical process industries (CPI) are considering ways to reduce their water discharges. In fact, more and more companies are evaluating the viability of zero-liquid-discharge (ZLD) processes. This usually involves consideration of evaporation and crystallization technologies, which can be very expensive from both capital and operational perspectives. New approaches, however, especially low-temperature evaporation, will provide additional options to evaporator system design for ZLD processes. This article examines conventional, as well as advanced water-treatment schemes. Focus is given to the challenges presented by highly soluble salts and how low-temperature evaporation can address these challenges. In many CPI plants, the cooling-water system is responsible for the most water consumption and the largest water discharge. Historically, evaporation has been used very successfully to eliminate discharge of cooling tower blowdown, particularly in the power generation industry in the Western U.S., where ZLD systems have long been employed mainly for water conservation purposes. Since cooling tower blowdown is relatively dilute, generally…
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