Industrial Water Treatment: Behind the Scenes

Industrial Water Treatment: Behind the Scenes 1
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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the most important variables in determining water quality standards is the water’s designated use.

Industrial Water Treatment

There are four standard, but varying classifications within industrial water treatment practices: process water treatment, boiler water treatment, cooling water treatment, and waste water treatment.

  1. Process water treatment: Process water is a common name for water which is used in connection with technical plants and processes in production companies, heat and power plants, and institutions. Process water has undergone a more extensive treatment process to meet the desired applications water quality requirements.

Industrial Water Treatment: Behind the Scenes 2

Almost all manufactured products use water during part of the production process. Process water uses include: water used for industrial purposes such as, fabricating, processing, washing, rinsing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product, incorporating water into a product, or for sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility.

  1. Boiler water treatment: Steam boilers corrode. Rust accumulates in the water and leaves behind unwanted deposits. It also requires more fuel to heat the same amount of water with corroded materials. This treatment eliminates rust, allowing the boiler to work efficiently without compromising water quality. Untreated boiler feed-water will leave behind corrosive elements that compromise piping, reduce efficiency, and result in sludge buildup. Industrial water treatment methods commonly used to treat boiler water include:
  • Deaeration
  • Dealkalizers
  • Deionization
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Water softening

All of the above-listed treatment methods help reduce mineral deposits, minimize boiler blowdown, and improve steam purity. 

  1. Cooling water treatment: Similar to steam boilers, cooling towers can scale up and corrode. If left untreated, contaminated water makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. A proper cooling water treatment system helps minimize deposits and control microbiological growths, resulting in reduced power consumption and extended cooling tower run lengths. Customized cooling water treatment systems are typically utilized in conjunction with other water treatment methods.
  1. Waste Water Treatment: This covers all applications used to treat waste or previously processed water produced as a by-product of industrial processes or commercial activities. Nearly all industrial wastewater must be treated before it can be reintroduced into the environment. Process water and rinse water is found in a variety of industries. Typically, it has become contaminated with chemicals and metals, and must be properly filtered through a process water filtration system prior to discharge.
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The treatment method used to remove process water contaminants depends largely on the type of water that needs to be treated and the level of contamination. A combination of physical, chemical, and biological water filtration processes may be required in order to properly analyze and treat the water, to maintain compliance with stringent Federal effluent limitation guidelines. After treatment, the processed water can be released into the environment or sanitary sewer. When treated properly, a manufacturer can also reuse the water and avoid expensive repair problems.

Industrial Water Treatment’s Biggest Problem Areas

Many industrial facilities such as refineries, chemical plants, and pharmaceutical buildings have onsite facilities for wastewater treatment and management. Industrial water treatment focuses on handling the biggest problem areas, which include:

  • Corrosion: Corrosion happens when metal materials oxidize. Besides compromising the integrity of the equipment, the oxidized metal can form solid deposits in the water. Corrosion also leads to leaks; if the water is stored in a pressurized system, failure due to leaking can cause catastrophic damage.
  • Scaling: Water often contains a lot of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. At the wrong temperature and with the right chemical reactions, dissolved minerals harden and form solid deposits on metal surfaces. The problem is that scale is a good insulator that prevents needed heat exchanges between the metal container (boiler) and the water.

 Microbes: In untreated cooling water, microbes thrive. Warm temperatures and an abundance of organic nutrients create ideal environments for microorganisms to breed. Biocides must be used to kill dangerous bacteria, but must also be safe for humans.

 Advancements in industrial water treatment technology have affected and improved all areas of industrial water treatment. Many industrial facilities and businesses find it challenging to work with multiple impurities and high levels of suspended or dissolved solids in their water. The traditional waste or processed water recovery methods were difficult and/or expensive. However, new water treatment technology and equipment now allows for almost full reclaim, while also eliminating expensive disposal fees and harmful waste. Recent developments in both municipal and industrial water treatment are constructed to meet or exceed the demands of even the most severe water treatment challenges.

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