When people think of wastewater management more often than not the smell of a sewage treatment plant comes to mind. On the other hand, the thought of industrial wastewater brings to mind pictures of green luminescent radioactive liquids leaking into water supplies causing mutations and illness. Fortunately, the latter is not the case as industries that generate large amounts of wastewater typically have their own on-site treatment systems. For plants without their own system it is common to have a pre-treatment system to remove toxins before sending the water to municipal wastewater plants. In either case, it is important to make sure wastewater assets are properly maintained with a CMMS to avoid contaminating groundwater supplies.
Sources of Industrial Wastewater
Major industry producers of wastewater requiring pre-treatment or on-site wastewater treatment are usually industries that require water for cooling or processing. Major industrial waste industries include:
- Iron and Steel: Water is used as a lubricant and as a coolant and can pick up a variety of toxins including benzene, hydraulic oils, particulate solids, and acids.
- Mining and Quarry Operations: Water is used to wash minerals which becomes contaminated with slurries of rock particles, hydraulic oils, discarded metals, arsenic and other particulates that form very fine slimes which are difficult to separate. In addition, rainfall on terrestrial mining surfaces wash unwanted particles into water.
- Food Industry: The processing of food requires a lot of water to wash away organic particulate matter and organic residue. In addition, when animals are slaughtered the water used to clean the parts becomes contaminated by hormones, parasites and antibiotics.
- Chemical Plants: Chemical plants produce the widest range of contaminants depending on what is being produced. Contaminants can range from oils to pesticides to complex compounds byproducts.
- Nuclear Power Plants: Nuclear power plants use enormous amounts of water to cool radioactive rods. This water is contaminated by radium and other decay products. In addition, nuclear facilities produce enormous amounts of spent fuel that must be stored until the threat of radiation has been neutralized. Improper storage can result in leaks which is an environmental disaster.
- Water treatment: Many industries demand water that is of very high quality to reduce impurities or enhance production. An example would be the use of water in Boilers. This waste generated from such operations produces organic and mineral sludges high in calcium, magnesium and carbonates.
- Water purification: Desalination is an example of a water filtration process designed to produce drinkable water from sea water. Naturally, putting back high levels of salt into the environment can have a negative impact on the eco-system.
Treatment of Industrial Wastewater
The treatment of industrial wastewater will obviously vary depending on the type of contaminants and treatment is asset intensive. Each method or process is performed by specialized equipment. Some equipment may be straightforward to operate and other equipment may require IT support. However, the most common forms of industrial wastewater treatment include:
- Solids removal using sedimentations and filters.
- Oil and Water Separators often using heat intensive skimmers that keep grease fluid.
- The removal of biodegradable organic material using biochemical components and a myriad of tanks used for aeration or settling and trickling filters.
- Advanced oxidation process, adsorption,vitrification, distillation and incineration.
- Acid neutralization
- Advanced Oxidation Process
- Aerated lagoons
The object of wastewater management is to reduce the amount of contaminants that can find their way back into the groundwater or reclaimed water. There is a growing need for reclaimed water in industry, as reusing water for other purposes can lower energy costs. For example, cooling towers do not normally require the same quality of water as a boiler. Water could also be used for toilet flushing or any other purpose that does not require drinking water.
CMMS Software Can Ensure Energy Efficiency
The treatment of wastewater produced through industrial activities requires a fair amount of energy. This is because the equipment needed to perform the detoxification needs power to operate and with some equipment like, oil and water separators, may require intensive heat generation. In addition, wastewater systems components are subject to accelerated corrosion due to particulate matter reacting with water and other chemicals. Equipment left uninspected for damage or lacking regular preventive maintenance can deteriorate quickly.
Deteriorating assets causes the assets to try and draw more power to accomplish the same results as well as subject them to excessive repair and downtime losses. A CMMS solution reduces this outcome by automating work order processes eliminating manual tracking systems. More importantly, CMMS software provides wastewater maintenance teams with a powerful scheduling tool that ensures inspections and preventive maintenance are performed routinely. Combination automation and scheduling frees up valuable time for inspections and preventive maintenance allowing maintenance teams to operate in a proactive environment resulting in greater asset energy efficiency.
Wastewater efficiency is important to everyone, share with us how your plant is addressing wastewater maintenance issues. If you liked this article, you may also enjoy reading:
- Plugging the Water Utility Leaks with Increased Inspections
- Halting Wastewater Inefficiency with a CMMS
- 15 Questions For Every Maintenance Manager
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