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New treatment seeks to reduce wastewater from petrochemical industry

26 enero 2017

The petrochemical industry consumes a great deal of water and it generates an estimated volume of 1,750 million m3 of wastewater a year only in Europe. Now a new and ambitious project, LIFE-REWATCH, is seeking to validate an innovative reclamation system for wastewater from the petrochemical industry to obtain high-quality water for reuse in the same industry.

The petrochemical industry consumes a great deal of water and it generates an estimated volume of 1,750 million m3 of wastewater a year only in Europe. Now a new and ambitious project, LIFE-REWATCH, is seeking to validate an innovative reclamation system for wastewater from the petrochemical industry to obtain high-quality water for reuse in the same industry.

The treatment line of the new water reclamation system has been designed by the Spanish subsidiary of Veolia Water Technologies in cooperation with Dow Chemical Ibérica. The system will be tested at one of the latter company's plants in Tarragona (Spain) and Veolia will build the prototype that will be used in the pilot test. The project is coordinated by the Eurecat-CTM Technology Centre.

Preparing the test

Under current planning, the test will start in the olefins cracker of Dow Chemical Ibérica in La Pobla de Mafumet (Tarragona) at the end of 2017. It will begin operations in January 2018 for two years until the end of the project (December 2019). "This test will be useful to assess the technical, economic and environmental features of this system. The initial purpose of the project is to obtain a quality that meets the specifications of the water supply for boilers and cooling towers,", explains Carme Bosch project co-ordinator at Eurecat.

One of the most relevant objectives of this project is to promote the acceptance of the water regeneration strategy developed and its implementation in other petrochemical industries. "To this end, REWATCH will develop a predictive tool to be able to extrapolate the results obtained using this technology to other petrochemical plants" remarks Carme Bosch. To begin with, this tool will be used in the Dow complexes in the Netherlands and in Germany. REWATCH will also seek to engage the participation of social stakeholders to encourage the use of this innovative technology in other industrial sectors.

Big savings, clear benefits

Tarragona concentrates one of the largest clusters of petrochemical industries in the Mediterranean. Companies in the area consume more than 27 hm3 of water from the Ebro River every year. If this recycling scheme extrapolated to the large Dow industrial complex in Tarragona, the company would save an important amount of fresh water per year. Other clear benefits are the reduction of wastewater generated and the costs of treatment. The project could also be very useful for sustainable water management in areas with water stress at different times of the year.

Images: Laboratory experiments to optimize coagulation and flocculation pretreatment and Dow plant in Tarragona. Credit: Eurecat and Dow Chemical Ibérica.

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