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Hot or cold? Recycle or discharge?—How to Approach Your Process Water Challenge

wastewater clarifiers
If your plant generates a substantial amount of liquid waste, or if you use a significant amount of fresh water in your processing facility, you very likely have to deal with wastewater.

Wastewater treatment (or pre-treatment) and management can be a major operating cost for manufacturing facilities. An effective approach that combines overall water balance, wastewater treatment, and its discharge temperatures can reduce costs and enhance your sustainability footprint.

This article focuses on the how’s and whys of process water and wastewater reduction, showing the ways your company can benefit from an improved system.

Why does wastewater reduction matter?

Wastewater reduction matters for two key reasons. First, it keeps you in compliance with laws and regulations.

The main regulations are title 40 of Code OF Federal Regulations (CFR) plus local laws pertaining to wastewater treatment and discharge. Secondly, compliance isn’t the only reason to invest in wastewater reduction—it can also help you recapture valuable resources.

How many byproducts are in your wastewater? Products like oil can easily slip out along with your wastewater—chances are, money-making opportunities are trickling away unused.

Costs and Risks

A wastewater plant without optimal treatment is a huge cost burden for a manufacturing facility.

Scarce maintenance resources are tied up in manually operating the plant to address frequent mechanical and treatment efficiency related issues that are common to such facilities.  Not having optimal treatment design also means these facilities are likely paying huge surcharges for discharging constituents above the allowable permit limits.

Many constituents such as oil, heavy metals, acids, salts, dyes and surfactants are heavily regulated and could result in Notice of Violation to permit ordinance, resulting in heavy penalties and even plant closures.

Compliance with FDA regulations on wastewater matters for your bottom line and your reputation. Penalties are costly to correct and can result in bad publicity and a public perception that your company isn’t safe or environmentally friendly.

Opportunities for Recycle/Reuse

Fresh water is a valuable and scarce resource. Costs pertaining to bringing in fresh water and disposing wastewater have gone up significantly in recent years.

Advances in treatment technologies and equipment design has enabled industries to incorporate ways to reuse significant portions of wastewater streams for beneficial use within the facility in a cost effective manner. In many instances the cost for a recycle system is far lower than cost of freshwater and wastewater disposal and these systems have short pay periods.

The treated effluent from wastewater system can be used for utilities, non-contact cooling, dust mitigation, irrigation, and house-keeping. This reduces the amount of fresh water intake, decreases disposed wastewater costs, and lowers risks of noncompliance and negative publicity

Water Pinch Analysis

Another major challenge when it comes to your process water is energy consumption.

Depending on your operation, you may be heating, cooling, or doing both during production. These processes require a significant amount of energy, and often there are opportunities to reclaim some of this energy and lower your overall energy costs.

The shortage of cooling capacity in the summer months is also a major concern for many plants. By conducting a water pinch analysis, you can expose gaps in your process and alleviate some of these capacity issues during hotter months.

For more on how pinch analysis works, refer to our article on why sustainability is good for your business.

ADF’s Wastewater Solutions

ADF offers a unique, tailored approach to process water and wastewater system design and optimization.

We design customized process water and wastewater treatment solutions that are tailored to individual facility’s needs. We approach this design challenge as Process Engineers: study your overall water balance and look for opportunities to reduce water usage, recycle, and uncover ways to reclaim energy.

As Process Engineers we understand the production processes and water quality requirements so your industrial facilities can meet not only permitting requirements but your overall sustainability goals.

Wastewater re-design with ADF isn’t a cumbersome task. At ADF, we create solutions that remove the barriers, defines the operation as a whole, and keeps you from costly wastewater management. We help you stay in compliance with the laws and improve your ROI by preventing lost resources from flowing away.

See our list of water engineering services.