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Successful technologies extract value from wastewater

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The rapid depletion of natural resources and exacerbation of environmental issues following large-scale industrialisation is intensifying the need for advanced environment and sustainability (E&S) technologies. One of the biggest concerns around the world is the scarcity of fresh water. Nearly a fifth of the globe’s population lives in areas of water scarcity, and some of these countries are poised for significant economic and population growth. This, along with the effects of climate change, will intensify the water stress, especially in emerging nations and arid regions in the Middle East. In response, E&S technology developers in countries such as Israel are setting up solar desalination plants with innovative membrane technologies to generate thousands of gallons of fresh water.

“Wastewater treatment technologies, waste-to-energy systems, and wastewater nutrient recovery plants are widening the scope of innovation for technology providers. For instance, nutrient recovery from wastewater will boost the sale of fertilisers, which may, in turn, establish a steady revenue stream for wastewater treatment plant operators,” observed Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Sharath Thirumalai. “Similarly, E&S stakeholders are promoting the use of precision agriculture and micro irrigation techniques to generate economic and environmental benefits for technology adopters.”

“E&S innovators are enhancing the efficiency of advanced oxidation processes and wastewater treatment technologies by employing a combination of equipment that can reduce the number of processes in each technology,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Shrinivas Chandrakant Tukdeo. “They are also striving to develop systems that lower the energy consumption in all technologies and, thereby, be more economically and environmentally viable.”

However, high CAPEX and OPEX of top technologies such as advanced oxidation processes and wastewater membrane filtration, and the general lack of end-user awareness, will restrain their adoption rates, even in urban areas. These issues can be mitigated to a large extent by public-private partnerships between governments and non-governmental organisations of developing countries to educate end users in rural and semi-urban areas about the importance of the technologies in creating a sustainable environment.

Besides, with more innovations, there will be a substantial reduction in the CAPEX and OPEX of E&S technologies. In the future, R&D of brine management and other wastewater resource recovery solutions will be given more importance so that complete commercialisation of these technologies will be possible, even in developing nations.

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