Increased water demand for industrial and domestic use has strained the existing water resources. In the event of a water crisis, industries are often slapped with higher water costs and associated charges. In the backdrop of rising concerns over the lack of low-cost water availability, DuPont Water Solutions has come up with innovative water treatment solutions. Its reverse osmosis (RO)-based technology is being widely used for water purification in the commercial, municipal and industrial water treatment segments. Its technology offers the benefit of lower replacement costs, simpler plumbing systems and easier maintenance. Besides, its RO elements meet or exceed high fabrication standards.
DuPont’s RO-based water treatment technology provides two to three times better quality water compared to cellulose membrane-based technologies. Besides, it effectively removes a higher percentage of dissolved solids, rejecting most of the undesirable dissolved solids such as chloride, lead and nitrates. According to DuPont, the RO-based treatment facility removes up to 99 per cent of impurities from water, and has lower operating costs and energy requirements. It can meet the requirements of commercial as well as municipal and industrial markets.
DuPont has developed a water treatment plant with a capacity to treat 5,000 cubic metres per day of water. The size of the plant is approximately the size of a heavy hauler truck, capable of efficiently meeting the water needs of about 60,000 residents. The capacity of the plant can be expanded further by up to 25 per cent without any mechanical or electrical work. DuPont’s filtration technology, which is specific to systems with a small footprint, uses a membrane-based system through RO to recycle wastewater. Its membrane bioreactors are based on the process of ultrafiltration, which makes the water suitable for irrigation purposes. With the development of this new technology, DuPont expects costs to come down to 35 paise per litre for end consumers.
DuPont has also launched a next-generation seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) technology that enables dry testing, increasing the shelf life and providing storage flexibility. The dry SWRO membranes help in bringing down energy consumption and reducing carbon dioxide emissions through lower membrane weight and alternative testing processes. According to DuPont, the dry-tested SWRO elements are instrumental in the growth path desalination process worldwide. This transition from wet to dry testing ensures greater sustainability and safety during operations. Moreover, the dry SWRO elements provide easier inventory and warehouse management, with safer installation and ease of handling. They also ensure longer storage times and lower operational costs as they do not need a solution for storage.
In order to promote these innovations, DuPont has partnered with the central government for an initiative, called Accelerated Growth of New India’s Innovations. It aims to support the growth and development of sustainable innovation and technology across industries such as water, mobility, health and nutrition.
The use of the RO technology has been facing huge criticism due to wastage of large amounts of water during the filtration process. Reportedly, the process wastes up to 80 per cent of the water with loss of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued a draft notification for the ban of membrane-based water purification systems, primarily RO, in areas where the water meets the norms of the Bureau of Indian Standards. In 2019, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had sought a ban on the use of RO filters in areas where the level of total dissolved solids is less than 500 mg per litre. As per the NGT, RO filtration results in unnecessary wastage of water and filtration of essential salts. The ministry has invited comments from various stakeholders on the matter.
New mandates by states such as Gujarat make it obligatory for industries to recycle and reuse wastewater for various operations. Demand from industrial players is playing an important role in the development of innovative solutions for water treatment. They have opened up opportunities for technology developers to come up with efficient solutions to ensure that water meets acceptable standards for reuse.