The European chemical industry is constantly striving to improve its water management by making it economically and ecologically more efficient. As competition for water grows in Europe, due to the effects of climate change and growing demand, a step change in efficiency is required. The recently launched E4Water FP7 project will help the chemical and other sectors make that change.
Water challenges – scarce fresh water resources, stress on aquatic ecosystems and the like – are high on the European and international agenda. Economically and environmentally efficient water management is seen as one of the main strategies for environmental protection in many European countries. And innovative solutions in industrial water use can help further decouple production growth from water use - always taking into account the local environmental and economic context.
The chemical industry is a cornerstone of the European economy, converting raw materials into thousands of different products. It is both a major water user and a solution provider for process industry sectors such as mining, industrial biotechnology, health, food, electronic, pulp and paper, and energy. As such, the chemical industry offers significant potential for increasing eco-efficiency in industrial water management throughout the value chain.
The E4Water project unites in its 19 member consortium large chemical industries, leading European water sector companies and innovative RTD centres and universities active in the area of water management. Together they will work to address crucial process industry needs to overcome bottlenecks and barriers for an integrated and energy-efficient water management.
E4Water is a European Commission-funded FP7 project jointly developed by SusChem and the European Water Platform (WssTP). E4Water was launched in May 2012 and will continue for four years. The project is coordinated by Dechema.
The main objective of E4Water is to develop and test integrated approaches, methodologies and process technologies. At the heart of the project are six industrial case study sites that are expected to achieve a reduction of 20-40% in water use, 30-70% in wastewater production, 15-40% in energy use and up to 60% in direct economic benefits. In addition to the chemical industry, the project will seek opportunities for cross-fertilisation with other industrial sectors.
To achieve these aims will require technological breakthroughs integrating across industrial, urban and agricultural water streams, bringing the chemical industry into the water value chain and interacting with other sectors. Tools will be provided that will allow industrial decision-makers to decide on how best to apply E4Water developments in Europe and beyond.
The project builds on state-of-the-art and new fundamental R&D concepts. E4Water will:
• Develop and test innovative treatment technologies for complex (concentrated) wastewater streams
• Develop selective treatment technologies and treatment systems that unlock barriers to the recycle and reuse of industrial water streams
• Integrate eco-efficient water management more strongly into industrial processes
• Integrate water management networks to reduce fresh water withdrawal
The six case studies will demonstrate and evaluate innovative water management options on selected industrial sites. The six chosen examples are the result of an extensive stakeholder dialogue during the preparation of the project.
The six case studies are:
• Mild desalination of water streams for optimum reuse in industry or agriculture at affordable cost led by Dow in the Netherlands and will involve the design, construction and start-up of a demonstration facility to enable the use of more streams in the regions such as rain water, agriculture, municipal and industrial waste water.
• Enhancement of water reuse by global management and synergy identification on a multi-company site led by Solvic in Belgium.
• Ensuring process continuation by closing the water loop and minimising fresh water use led by SolVin Iberica in Spain on a PVC process site.
• Enhancing in-process water loop closure by integrating biocidal with wastewater treatment technologies led by PGB in Belgium to help recycling of wash water from cleaning and sanitation processes in liquid operations.
• Towards integrated water management system in a petrochemical site led by Total in France. The objectives are the enhanced recycling in cooling circuits, wastewater reuse for cooling water make up and other operations, reduction of water abstraction by more than 40%, and improving process reliability.
• Bioextraction technology in a symbiotic industrial wastewater treatment concept creating added value led by CBD in Denmark.
You can find out more about the E4Water project on their website.