Water sector working with industry

Degremont Pty Ltd
Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

Degrémont, a subsidiary of water and waste management company Suez Environnement, has just signed a contract with Delta Electricity to operate and maintain the water reclamation plant at Vales Point Power Station in New South Wales. Sustainability Matters talks to Stuart Gowans, General Manager - Business Development at Degrémont, to find out more about the company’s expansion into the industrial sector in Australia.

The power industry requires a significant amount of water for cooling processes and high-purity water for boilers; therefore, finding more sustainable water solutions has been a high priority for the industry for many years.

“Globally, Degrémont has been assisting the power sector with its water management for quite some time,” says Gowans. “In Australia, the company has principally been focused on municipal water. However, the company is now leveraging on its global capabilities and experience in the industrial space, particularly the power sector, to expand into this sector in Australia.

“There is a definite link for both the power and water sectors to try to maximise efficiency and sustainability,” says Gowans.

He says there are two key areas where the water sector can help the power industry and they are: to maximise the efficiency of the initial water supplied to the plant and efficiently re-use the water that is used within the plant.

“So whether the initial supply of water is from seawater, groundwater, surface water, effluent, etc, we can treat that water, minimising the chemicals and power used to produce that water as efficiently as possible.

“When it has been used in the process of generating power, instead of it going to waste, such as blowdown from the cooling process, we can take that water and retreat it for re-use back in the process again. It’s all about trying to maximise the efficient use of every drop of water that is taken into the power plant.”

The Degrémont project with Delta Electricity began in June and will run for an initial term of two years. It will encompass the delivery of new membranes, supply of chemicals and overall operation, remote monitoring and management of the facility. The works will support the continued positive sustainable impact of the water reclamation plant, which has significantly reduced the volume of fresh water required to run the power station since its introduction in 2009 by purifying effluent from the Mannering Park sewage treatment works. The treated effluent is purified with microfiltration and reverse osmosis, which is then fed into the ion exchange system to produce high-purity water for the boiler at the power plant.

“As the base technologies are well established at the plant, what Degrémont is bringing to the project is its experience in optimising the efficiency of membrane processes,” says Gowans.

He says the Suez Environnement group spends upwards of $100 million on R&D annually. It also has a membrane lab in its Paris R&D facility, so it is constantly looking at ways to maximise the life of the membranes and minimising the energy used. This includes looking at various types of membranes available and improving the efficiency of the operating regimes - for example, minimising how often the membranes are cleaned and replaced, and minimising the amount of chemicals used in this process.

Degrémont has also developed a new innovation in the microfiltration space called Smartrack. Gowans explains that, “Under normal circumstances, a microfiltration system is specific to a type and manufacturer of membrane. However, with our system, you can change to various different manufacturers and type of membrane during the life of the project.” He says this gives the system more flexibility as it can be more easily upgraded with different membrane types as new innovations come to market.

“Energy and chemical use are such key parts of both the sustainability and the commercial cost of an industrial operation. It is something we are very focused on and we are constantly pushing for new innovations,” concludes Gowans.

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