17 February 2009
Manufacturers aim to recycle all their water
Two manufacturers in Melbourne's west are aiming to reduce their use of potable water to zero by achieving 100% recycling of waste water.
Partners in the project are Toyota's car manufacturing plant at Altona, Cadbury Schweppes' beverage plant at Tullamarine, City West Water (CWW) and Victoria University's Institute for Sustainability and Innovation (ISI) and the School of Engineering and Science (SES). VU has a long-standing association with CWW in water management research.
Project leader Professor John Orbell from the ISI said the substantial water usage at these two large manufacturing facilities comes at a cost not just to the environment but also to profitability as the price of water climbs.
"These businesses are focusing on water management because they believe that saving a precious resource and reducing costs can go hand in hand", Professor Orbell said.
After ten months, the team has completed the first stage of the project - comprehensive water audits of both sites. The audits have established how much water is consumed and how efficiently it is distributed. The team is using this information to optimise water usage with the help of sophisticated computer modelling.
"Worldwide the recycling rate for industry - recycled water as a percentage of total intake - averages around 43 per cent," Professor Orbell said.
"There is enormous scope for achieving substantially higher rates. With improved efficiency and the introduction of advanced water treatment technologies, the goal of total water recycling is a real possibility."
Treatments being investigated include Air Gap Membrane Distillation (AGMD), a filtration method that can be driven by waste heat.
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