THE EVO­LU­TION OF WA­TER MAN­AGE­MENT INTO ‘IN­DUS­TRIAL WA­TER 4.0’

Chem­i­cal pro­duc­tion is sim­ply not pos­si­ble with­out wa­ter. Used as a coolant, sol­vent, reagent, or prod­uct con­stituent, wa­ter is an in­dis­pens­able re­source in the process in­dus­try. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion con­tin­ues to ex­pand its foot­print in chem­i­cal pro­duc­tion, and

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The po­ten­tial for re­duc­ing re­ac­tion times and in­creas­ing flex­i­bil­ity now go far be­yond the in­di­vid­ual line, or sys­tem. Par­tic­u­larly in batch pro­duc­tion, for ex­am­ple the pro­duc­tion of ac­tive in­gre­di­ents in the biotech­nol­ogy in­dus­try and the ma­jor­ity of pro­cesses in steel pro­duc­tion, es­ti­mates of process wa­ter flows can be im­proved by ac­quir­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing pro­duc­tion unit data. This is a key fac­tor for cre­at­ing an in­dus­trial sym­bio­sis at chem­i­cal and in­dus­trial parks.

Waste wa­ter man­age­ment

In­dus­trial wa­ter man­age­ment can only func­tion through in­ter­ac­tion with the ex­ter­nal op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment. This pri­mar­ily means the mu­nic­i­pal (waste) wa­ter sec­tor and the man­age­ment of nat­u­ral wa­ter re­sources (ground­wa­ter and sur­face wa­ter), which mostly in­volves pub­lic au­thor­i­ties.

In­creased dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal (waste) wa­ter sec­tor with the in­tro­duc­tion of Wa­ter 4.0 places new de­mands on the in­ter­faces be­tween mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to the op­ti­mi­sa­tion of in­for­ma­tion flows. For sites where nat­u­ral wa­ter re­sources play an in­te­gral role in wa­ter man­age­ment, dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion at the in­ter­face to ap­proval and en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties will be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant for mon­i­tor­ing and com­pli­ance pur­poses.

The wa­ter and waste wa­ter in­dus­try is faced with the chal­lenge of adapt­ing its sys­tems to on­go­ing de­mo­graphic, struc­tural and cli­mate change. More and more con­sumers, both pri­vate and in­dus­trial, are con­cen­trated in densely pop­u­lated ur­ban ar­eas. The re­sult is greater de­mand for wa­ter and higher ef­flu­ent vol­umes. In re­sponse, the de­mands placed on wa­ter qual­ity are be­com­ing con­tin­u­ally more strin­gent.

Prop­erly con­di­tioned wa­ter

Par­tic­u­larly in in­dus­trial pro­cess­ing, the sup­ply of prop­erly con­di­tioned wa­ter has a cru­cial in­flu­ence on pro­duc­tiv­ity and process qual­ity. In some re­gions of the world such as In­dia and Latin Amer­ica, wa­ter scarcity and poor wa­ter qual­ity have be­come an im­ped­i­ment to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

As a re­sult, the gen­eral pub­lic is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly aware of the need for pro­tec­tion and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of wa­ter re­sources. Even in coun­tries like Ger­many, con­tam­i­na­tion of ground­wa­ter and sur­face wa­ter with trace pol­lu­tants and other en­vi­ron­men­tally harm­ful sub­stances from in­dus­trial ef­flu­ent, the ex­ces­sive re­lease of nu­tri­ents from agri­cul­ture and the prob­lem of mi­cro plas­tics is cre­at­ing new chal­lenges for wa­ter con­di­tion­ing. Ad­di­tional con­di­tion­ing stages have to be added to the pu­rifi­ca­tion process, or mod­i­fi­ca­tions need to be made to ex­ist­ing pro­cesses to com­ply with more strin­gent thresh­old val­ues. To the ex­tent pos­si­ble, plant op­er­a­tors should en­sure that dur­ing nat­u­ral events such as heavy rain and se­vere weather, flood­ing of ef­flu­ent treat­ment plants and un­con­trolled re­lease of pol­luted waste wa­ter are pre­vented.

In­creas­ing flex­i­bil­ity in pro­duc­tion causes fluc­tu­a­tions in wa­ter de­mand and wa­ter vol­umes. The wa­ter sup­ply and ef­flu­ent treat­ment sys­tems must be de­signed to han­dle this flex­i­bil­ity. Last but not least, de­mo­graphic change cre­ates the need for plant op­er­a­tors to har­vest the knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of their em­ploy­ees who work in wa­ter con­di­tion­ing so that this ex­per­tise can be passed on dur­ing train­ing.

Plant op­er­a­tors should en­sure that dur­ing nat­u­ral events such as heavy rain and se­vere weather, flood­ing of ef­flu­ent treat­ment plants and un­con­trolled re­lease of pol­luted waste wa­ter are pre­vented.

Cir­cu­lar wa­ter man­age­ment

Sus­tain­able wa­ter and waste wa­ter man­age­ment de­pends on the ex­is­tence of a cir­cu­lar wa­ter man­age­ment sys­tem. Both struc­turally and in the IT do­main, the in­dus­trial and mu­nic­i­pal de­mand and (waste) wa­ter flows must be in­ter­linked. This cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit syn­er­gies in many ar­eas which can en­hance the ef­fi­ciency and qual­ity of wa­ter con­di­tion­ing and ef­flu­ent treat­ment.

In­te­grated mon­i­tor­ing of the wa­ter sup­ply can speed up the de­tec­tion of leaks, en­sure com­pli­ance with thresh­old val­ues and guar­an­tee needs-based man­age­ment of wa­ter and waste wa­ter flows.

Once dig­i­tal links are es­tab­lished be­tween in­dus­trial and mu­nic­i­pal (waste) wa­ter man­age­ment, data from real-time mon­i­tor­ing of wa­ter vol­umes and qual­ity can be in­put into an in­for­ma­tion, or early warn­ing sys­tem not only dur­ing nor­mal op­er­a­tions, but also dur­ing ex­cep­tional weather events, or toxic surges in the wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

Plant op­er­a­tors can use model-based op­ti­mi­sa­tion sys­tems to gen­er­ate fore­casts which in turn form the ba­sis for mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters. Data ac­qui­si­tion sys­tems pro­vide re­li­able data, which gen­er­ates max­i­mum real-world ben­e­fits for sys­tem op­er­a­tions.

Sim­u­la­tions of in­flow and out­flow vol­umes can be gen­er­ated by in­te­grat­ing weather data and geo-in­for­ma­tion sys­tems, and this data can be linked to the op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters of the dif­fer­ent sys­tems.

With this ap­proach, it would be pos­si­ble for ex­am­ple to cre­ate buf­fer ca­pac­ity for ex­tra wa­ter vol­umes prior to a heavy rain event, or ad­just ef­flu­ent treat­ment op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters to match the new com­po­si­tion of the ef­flu­ent.

That how­ever pre­sup­poses more in­ten­sive net­work­ing be­tween the var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions and sys­tems as well as so­lu­tions for ac­qui­si­tion and anal­y­sis of data from a wide va­ri­ety of sen­sors and sys­tems. (This fea­ture is based on a trend re­port from DECHEMA for ACHEMA 2018.)

Once dig­i­tal links are es­tab­lished be­tween in­dus­trial and mu­nic­i­pal (waste) wa­ter man­age­ment, data from real-time mon­i­tor­ing of wa­ter vol­umes and qual­ity can be in­put into an in­for­ma­tion, or early warn­ing sys­tem not only dur­ing nor­mal op­er­a­tions, but also dur­ing ex­cep­tional weather events, or toxic surges in the wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

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