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Helping the industry sector improve the water balance Iv-Water

Helping the industry sector improve the water balance

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it is possible that by 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in an area where so-called ‘water stress’ prevails. For several years now, the theme of water stress has also been impacting the Netherlands, partly due to climate change. However, the industry sector can also combat water stress by creating a healthy and responsible water balance for its own processes.

Iv-Water has been studying the water balance for production processes and has observed that there is a lot to be gained in both quantity and quality. By mapping the water balance at a factory, a treatment plant or, for example, a waste processing company, insight can be gained into the water footprint, thus helping to make substantiated choices in optimising water management.

First, let us zoom in on the problem of water stress. What does it involve, and how big is the problem exactly? Water stress is basically water scarcity. In the Netherlands, the soil is drying out due to prolonged periods of drought. Salinisation of groundwater is now also an issue and is partly due to desiccation combined with rising sea levels and soil settlement. In particular, the agricultural sector, nature, and drinking water companies are affected by this desiccation and salinisation. In addition to water availability, the ground or surface water quality is also crucial for the chosen technology for drinking water preparation. These technologies are becoming more complex and, therefore, more expensive.

In the Netherlands, the soil is drying out due to prolonged periods of drought

Inventorise, optimise, add value
Within the industry sector, there is an increasing need for in-depth insight into the water balance. Iv-Water determines this water balance based on a step-by-step plan using three main principles: inventory, optimisation and value creation. It starts with collecting process data within a company and performing a thorough data analysis based on existing measurements and trending data from, for example, SCADA systems and, where necessary, through the placement of additional measurements. This data analysis provides insight into the quantity and quality of the intake water and discarded water, including the actual required quality and quantity for each part of the process

Subsequently, the opportunities and possibilities for optimisation of all business processes are mapped. Several issues are associated, partly depending on the client’s wishes and requirements but also from the perspective of legislation and regulations (including permits). These issues include possibilities for optimising water reuse, using and treating recirculated water under the correct specification and optimising transporting water. In other words, closing cycles for reuse. But also accomplishing sustainability ambitions or increasing the availability of the required water and thus of the primary process.

The industry sector is still missing opportunities.

Finally, creating added value to the water is examined. Not only through reuse but also through the use of residual products, ultimately lowering the water footprint and achieving savings on, among other things, energy consumption and/or the use of chemicals. In short, the ‘total cost of ownership’

Now that the Netherlands is also increasingly dealing with water stress, the urgency to use our water more economically is growing. Until recently it was taken for granted that sufficient (high-quality) water was available, but this is no longer a certainty. Paul Kloet, Deputy Director of Iv-Water, feels the industry sector has an excellent opportunity to improve its water balance significantly. “Even though the industry sector is making great strides, opportunities are still being missed. For example, when it comes to the circularity of water, the reuse of used water streams whether or not by applying (treatment) technologies. These technologies allow us to use water efficiently, with the correct specification. As a result, a reduction in drinking water intake could be achieved in many cases.”

Paul refers to the fact that drinking water, which was even scarce in the Netherlands for a while in the warm and dry summer of 2022, is relatively cheap for companies to purchase, even if they do not use it as drinking water. Partly because of this, the water balance is sometimes off-balance. “People need to become more aware of the importance of the value of water. One possibility is to increase the price, but the social value can also play a role by increasing the sustainability ambitions in which the industry sector can make a significant contribution.”

Broad knowledge and approach
The positive effects of an optimised water balance are clear: less water wastage, reuse of water, and thus a reduction in drinking water intake, which directly contributes to reducing our water stress. In addition, this balance can provide insight into the possible reuse of (waste) substances from the treated water. However, establishing such a water balance is only a start. Iv-Water has the broad in-house knowledge to provide clarity and insight into that balance and implement or propose optimisations. In the end, specialisms within other divisions are also needed to achieve improved water management.

It’s all about bundling different technologies, such as those that use filtration, biology, reverse osmosis and polishing”, says Paul. “Ultimately, we want to achieve an integral design in which we deploy for example RAMS, cost and contract experts alongside our process technologists, civil engineers, mechanical engineers and EIA engineers (Electrical, Instrumentation and Automation). This broad approach which Iv has chosen has many advantages. It concerns a choice in not only process technology but also an approach to aspects such as maintainability, availability, sustainability (such as energy consumption and minimal CO2 emissions) and the necessary space requirements.”

Optimising the water balance and tackling scarcity, therefore, requires an integral approach but also an approach that is fit for the long term. The optimisation contributes to limiting water use and the futureproofing of (existing) installations of (water) companies. Future-proofness must be guaranteed, and sufficient surface and groundwater are thereby essential

If awareness increases, we can achieve a lot

Establishing a water balance based on our step-bystep plan not only provides insight. As far as Paul Kloet is concerned, it is more necessary than ever to deal with water more sustainably. But, of course, it helps if companies can also derive economic benefits in addition to sustainability aspects. Paul: “We want to help create awareness of the value of water. If that increases, we can achieve a lot.”

Iv-Water has now successfully deployed the stepby-step plan for the water balance, including the development of solutions, in various markets within the industry sector, such as food, chemical industry and waste processing. •

Would you like to know more about this project? Paul will be pleased to tell you more. Contact him via 088 943 8339 or send Paul an email.