The results of a pilot study of a new desalination technology from GE showed a water recovery rate of over 99% at a beverage bottling plant, which could translate into savings of billions of water each year if it was widely implemented.
GE's AquaSel Non-Thermal Brine Concentrator (NTBC) could be a major breakthrough for water recovery in the beverage industry, as anywhere from 15 to 25% of the incoming water ends up being discharged as wastewater during the treatment process as "brine". The AquaSel treats that brine by desalinating it and returning most of it to the water system, and then concentrating the remaining brine even further and removing the salts as crystals. This enables a water recovery rate of over 99%, or near Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD), as well as reducing fresh water intake by as much as 20%.
"Billions of gallons of usable water are lost every day because today’s water treatment technologies have techno-economic limits on how much water can be treated and reused. GE’s NTBC technology can turn billions of gallons of lost water into clean, usable water by virtually eliminating the wastewater streams in a variety of industrial and municipal treatment processes." - Heiner Markhoff, GE Power & Water
According to GE, and the data from the pilot study, if the NTBC technology were to be in place at all the major bottling plants, as much as 30 million gallons of water per day could be potentially saved or recovered, adding up to nearly 11 billion gallons per year worldwide.
As well as being able to recover the majority of the water in the wastestream, the NTBC system has a much lower energy requirement than other systems, such as those using heat to separate and purify the brine. Implementing this new water technology could result in significant reductions in energy demand and the resulting costs, which could be a big incentive for businesses to invest in the equipment.
"Companies today face higher water usage and discharge costs. This technology gives them a tool to meet higher water efficiencies without the capital and energy costs of putting in a thermal system." - Juan Alfredo Zepeda, GE Power & Water
For more information, go to AquaSel at GE Energy.