Jul 10, 2017

Commercial Water Treatment Leading the Way

A review of technologies for commercial water treatment applications

Our water sustainability future largely depends on best practices for commercial and industrial water treatment applications. With that in mind, a bold move called One Water has been introduced by the US Water Alliance. According to its mission statement, “The US Water Alliance is driving a one water movement. We envision a future where all water is valued. Irrigation on a farm. Water from the tap. Storm water. Water flowing toward a treatment plant. Water, in all its forms, is valuable, and our collective future depends on water.”

Educating the country about water’s value and accelerating policies and programs for better water management resources are key goals for the organization. As good stewards of water management, commercial partners can take the lead in developing new and innovative systems for quality management of water resources and at the same time provide clean water to their customers.

Commercial Water Reuse

As worldwide water scarcity continues to be an issue, interest in water recycling is increasing. Unfortunately, government regulations in some jurisdictions have prevented companies and homeowners from using this strategy. One Water addresses a multitude of water crises and suggests solutions to relieve regulatory issues in its One Water RoadMap.

According to that plan, “Cities are coming up with new ways to develop, conserve and reuse water. Some communities are opting for more localized, linked networks that manage water resources as an integrated component of larger, more centralized systems.” The road map notes that small-scale systems can treat water within specific buildings with onsite systems. Large-scale deployment, however, will require policy, code and regulation updates.

As the green construction movement has grown, water recycling can no longer be ignored. Systems are available to provide safe potable and non-potable water. The latter is more common, with most of these systems being used for irrigation.

Electrocoagulation effectively recovers wastewater without chemicals, thereby reducing water replacement costs. It can remove heavy metals as oxides that pass toxicity characteristic leaching procedures; remove suspended and colloidal solids; break oil emulsions in water; remove fat, oil and grease; remove complex organics; and destroy and remove bacteria, viruses and cysts.

Electrodeionization (EDI) combines membranes with a traditional ion exchange resin. An EDI stack uses electrical current instead of chemicals to regenerate, eliminating the need for portable exchange tanks and onsite regeneration. This is an alternative to traditional water softener systems used for hotels, restaurants and other commercial buildings.

Water deionization technology removes dissolved salts from tap water, brackish groundwater and industrial process water to eliminate corrosion and scaling issues caused by hard water. It also is used in commercial applications for businesses like laundromats and automotive paint lines, as well as the agricultural industry.

Membranes, Strainers & Filters

Graphene oxide membranes are promising candidates for the future of filtration technology, because they may hold the answer to removing common salts through filtration.

According to a University of Manchester press release, “Graphene oxide membranes developed at the National Graphene Institute have already demonstrated the potential of filtering out small nanoparticles, organic molecules and even large salts.” However, the sieves were not small enough to filter out common salts used in desalination technologies.

When immersed in water, graphene oxide membranes swell, which allows smaller salts to flow through while larger ions and molecules cannot. As the University of Manchester developed the membranes, it found ways to control the membrane pore size to sieve common salts out of water.

Particulates and sediment can cause a lot of damage to pipe and equipment within commercial buildings. This reduces efficiencies and raises energy costs. Automatic self-cleaning strainers are used in a variety of applications where continuous water flow is crucial. Strainers are ideal for commercial reverse osmosis (RO), ultrafiltration and ultraviolet prefiltration, well water, commercial buildings, and point-of-entry protection for boilers.

Chemical-free reactor systems can control scale, corrosion and bio-contamination with an electrochemical process. They use chlorides naturally present in the water to produce halogenation without the use of chemicals, and are ideal for food and beverage facilities, hotels, hospitals, pharmaceutical applications and large manufacturing plants.

Breweries require various types of filtered water. It is critical for sediment, chlorine and chloramines to be removed, as they affect the fermentation process. Catalytic carbon is a desirable media because it can remove chlorine, chloramines, organics and pesticides contained in a backwashing mineral tank. Some breweries prefer to remove all contaminants with RO and add necessary minerals back into the mixture for the brewing process.

Smaller Footprint Filtration

The persistent problem of lead contamination has become a top concern for schools. Aging infrastructure and current disinfection practices have contributed to the ongoing lead crises, not only in schools, but also in other buildings across the U.S. Although treatment solutions are available, some local governments have implemented stopgap measures such as distributing bottled water or simply shutting off the offending drinking water fountains.

Simple inline and multi-stage point-of-use water filtration systems remove a multitude of contaminants. Some of these systems are capable of reducing more than 95% of lead, in addition to many other contaminants, including emerging contaminants. They are suitable for small commercial applications such as restaurants, schools, water fountains and kitchens.

Scale Prevention Without the Salt

As society demands more sustainability, companies are choosing more cost-effective systems to protect pipe and equipment from limescale corrosion.

From pipe to commercial tankless water heaters and boilers, protection can come in the form of a filter or media. For example, the NSF/ANSI Standard 61- certified media Siliphos acts as threshold inhibitor in sub-stoichiometric amounts to stabilize water and prevent CaCO3 scale from forming. Because it is suitable for water up to 176°F, it is ideal for hot water systems. It is being used for commercial tankless and boiler systems to protect the heat exchanger and internal parts. These systems can be configured for flow rates beyond 150 gal per minute for apartment buildings and hotels.

With demands on sustainability, the future is promising for the commercial water filtration industry. New technologies will help save and reuse water while improving companies’ bottom lines. Distributors and dealers can capitalize on these advancements and lead the way.

copyright: jes2ufoto/123rf stock photo

About the author

Susan White is a freelance writer and marketing consultant for water treatment professionals. White can be reached at [email protected].

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