Today, industry worldwide accounts for roughly 20% of the global freshwater consumption and most of this is for uses in energy production and manufacturing. As freshwater scarcity and depletion of renewable freshwater sources are critical issues in most parts of the world and is trending, desalination and water reuse in industry has emerged as one of the most important themes in the water sector over the past decade.
Over the coming years, the technologies associated with salt removal and the recycling of wastewater will become an essential part of sustainable economic growth and profitability. Sector wise this trend will be driven by the following eight most water intensive industrial sectors:
Oil and gas
Refining and petrochemicals
Food and beverage
Within the different sectors, the demand for desalination technologies is driven by a need to produce ultra-pure water, desalinate seawater and/or reclaimed wastewater.
According to Global Water Intelligence the industrial desalination market will experience a compound annual growth (CAGR) from 2017 to 2025 of around 11% with an estimated market size in 2017 of 6,9 billion USD to a market size of 12 billion USD in 2025. The growth is dominated by the oil and gas, refining and petrochemicals, mining and power generation sector but significant growth is also expected in the food, microelectronics and pharmaceutical industry.
Pulp and paper
Desalination (and other water treatment technologies) can be applied as a pre-treatment step (A) to the manufacturing processes to ensure the appropriate water quality and salinity level of intake water is passed on as process water. Exact steps depend on salinity and cleanliness of intake water as well as requirements for process water.
After the water ‘comes out’ of the manufacturing processes, some industries will then want to recirculate and reuse the waste water again, and others will want to release it. In both cases, a post-treatment step (B or C) is necessary as the salt concentration most often will have increased during the manufacturing processes.
Lastly, all desalination steps will result in brine water streams in need of treatment (D) before either capturing the brine/salt concentrates for recovery and utilization or for disposal.