Zero Water Industries

I recently finished writing an online course, Introduction to Reclaimed Water, for CEU Plan, Inc. This is a company that provides training for professionals in the water industry.

Recycled water is more in-demand now than ever, especially in water-hungry states like California and Texas. In addition to concerns of water shortage, environmental regulations are very restrictive about putting wastewater in receiving streams. So water conservation and reuse are important factors in meeting those goals.

My introductory course focused more on reclaiming municipal effluent. But industry is doing its part as well.

I was reading a Water Online article about Nestle's Zero Water Facility.

Zero water and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) systems are gaining ground in various industries. A ZLD system is just that--as much liquid as possible is recycled or repurposed within the facility,  and the remainder evaporated or crystalized. The solids or crystals can be repurposed, or in some cases landfilled.

An important component of ZLD is to analyze the entire process and start by finding ways to conserve water first.

In Nestle's project the object is to withdraw no groundwater--only to extract any needed water from their raw materials--hence the name zero water versus zero liquid discharge.

Veolia Water provides ZLD systems and notes case studies of successful projects in at power plants and refineries.

And an Industrial WaterWorld article describes a US Water Services ZLD project for an ethanol plant.

You may wonder why all companies don't have ZLD facilities.

As you see from these articles, ZLD technology is complex, and each project is unique. Also, design and equipment for zero water industries is very costly. And those costs must be passed on to customers--which can give non-ZLD competitors an edge.

However, as the combination of water supply shortages, stringent environmental regulations and political pressures increase, I'm sure we'll see more companies looking towards zero liquid discharge or zero water.

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