Industrial Wastewater Treatment

The blue resource from criticality to opportunity for businesses

Industrial wastewater reuse is an opportunity for industries to reduce costs, improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact: the European Union has established a regulatory framework, now it's up to companies to seize the opportunity in terms of optimizing this resource. Some tools to do so: reverse osmosis, cloth filtration... and good advice.

European regulation on industrial water reuse

Reuse of treated wastewater allows treated wastewater to be used for purposes other than discharge to a natural water body. Industries are discovering the benefits of this choice in terms of optimizing resources and streamlining internal processes, but for many years now the European Union has provided a regulatory framework for this practice. Here are some of the key steps.

  • Directive 2000/60/EC: This standard establishes a framework for EU water policy. It requires member states to promote the reuse of treated wastewater to reduce freshwater demand and improve water quality-a goal that can also be achieved through the reuse of industrial wastewater, which can help reduce water pollution and improve water quality.
  • The Industrial Waste Water Directive (2013/39/EU) established an obligation for member states to promote the reuse of industrial wastewater. The Directive also stipulated that member states must set reuse targets for different industrial sectors.
  • Regulation (EU) 2020/741, which entered into force on June 26, 2023: establishes minimum requirements for the reuse of treated urban wastewater for irrigation purposes in agriculture (a complementary theme to that of industrial wastewater reuse).
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Industrial wastewater reuse solutions

Each industrial plant has its own process characteristics, with associated water treatment and reuse requirements. However, some treatment processes that are often useful for industrial water can be listed.

  • Biological treatments: aerobic or anaerobic bacteria (thus acting in the presence or absence of oxygen) are the active “subject” of the degradation of organic matter, often found in industrial wastewater, into less harmful and more easily removable substances.
  • Filtration: filtration is a physical process to remove particles in wastewater down to a few tens of mg/l of total suspended solids.
  • Disinfection: this is in this case an almost final stage of industrial water treatment, killing pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Reverse osmosis: reverse osmosis is a physical process for removing specific pollutants from wastewater.

Filtration of industrial water is particularly convenient for this need: this is especially so when space availability is limited. This process also produces water with very small suspended particle components, which is therefore useful for reuse in the vast majority of plants.

MITA Water Technologies' canvas filtration for water reuse

Industrial water filtration systems are often used with two goals in mind: compliance with restrictive European environmental regulations and to achieve a high quality final effluent (in terms of reduction of suspended solids, BOD and COD, phosphorus, etc.) for effective reuse of the water resource in the production cycle.

For these purposes, tertiary cloth filtration is very convenient, especially with limited space for housing equipment.

In this area, one of the most viable solutions is certainly free-fiber cloth filters, in both disc and drum variants: the water treated by depth filtration, enabled by the cloth fleece, is certainly of higher quality than that of similar tertiary filtration solutions, for an output of about 5 mg/l of suspended solids. Thus, it also becomes cost-effective to recover water that would otherwise be discharged, allowing a significant economic advantage for businesses.

In some processes, however, further finishing is required than simple cloth filtration: in these contexts, disc or drum filters using free fiber are effectively installed upstream of membrane processes, e.g., reverse osmosis. Indeed, the membranes of this technology must be safeguarded from fouling as much as possible and need to receive water with a very low content of suspended solids: it is precisely cloth filters that intervene here with their versatility in handling high loads of incoming pollutants.

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Case studies with industrial water

Cloth Filters and Cooling Towers for Plastic Industry

Cooling and wastewater treatment together: that's the card that proved successful in supporting a plastics equipment company in northern Italy, which was already working with Group company MITA Cooling Technologies. The possibility of water reuse, through comprehensive management of this resource, is a card that industries can exploit to derive value from blue gold.

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Wastewater treatment will increasingly be a resource efficiency and optimization opportunity for organizations in both civil and industrial settings.