For industrial companies using raw water for their plant, some type of raw water treatment system is usually necessary to ensure an efficient plant production process and quality manufactured products. The best raw water treatment system for the facility will help it avoid costly plant downtime, expensive maintenance fees, and not being able to sell its products in the market, among other problematic issues.
But how do you choose the best raw water treatment system for your plant?
The answer to this question can sometimes be a bit complex and depends on a variety of factors. We’ve simplified and broken down what this might mean for your plant below:
The main factors to consider when choosing a raw water treatment system
There are three main factors that will help you choose the ideal raw water treatment system:
- Quality. What is the quality of your raw water source and what are the purity requirements of the treated water?
- Raw water testing and treatability study results. What are the variations of your feed water chemistry over time and how does this affect your process? Will the proposed treatment options help you solve the issues your seeing and meet local discharge regulations for your secondary wastes generated?
- Plant lifespan. How long will you need to run the system? Five years? Thirty?
Working with your engineering company to analyze these key points will help steer you in the right direction when choosing the best system for your plant.
Let’s break down each factor individually and simplify how these might affect your decisions:
The quality of your raw water source in relation to the quality requirements after treatment
One of the largest factors that will determine how to choose your raw water treatment system is the equipment that will go into the actual makeup of the system, which is often determined by the quality of your raw water source in relation to the quality of water you need after treatment.
What is the quality of your water source?
The first thing to understand when choosing the best raw water treatment system for your plant is what your water source will be.
In all cases, careful consideration should be used in looking at the source water and whether it’s best to either use the local municipally-fed, ground, or surface water, as they are all affected by different contaminants.
Sometimes it’s better to treat your own raw water from ground or surface sources or to buy it from a secondary source, such as a municipality, but either way, it’s important to evaluate the quality you’re going to get. If the municipal water source is going to give you poor quality water and you have to treat it further to make it useful in your facility when you can access your own better quality surface or ground water, then make sure you’re weighing these options. The contaminants present in the source water in relation to what your water quality needs are will affect the technology present in the makeup of your system.
For information about common raw water problems and technologies that can treat them, see our blog post about these possible issues and solutions here.
What is the quality of water you need?
The second thing to understand when choosing the best raw water treatment system for your plant is the quality of water you need for your plant. Does it need to be:
- pure for drinking?
- ultrapure for microelectronics production?
- not so pure for domestic use such as flushing a toilet or equipment wash down?
Also keep in mind that the water quality might depend on your industry. For example, many industrial facilities in industries such as power, petrochemical, chemical, and refineries, require large volumes of water for boiler makeup. Because of this, care must be taken in selecting the raw water treatment technologies that will properly prepare the water for polishing treatment such as removing colloidal contaminants from the water, which will foul membrane systems and plug deionizers. Specifically, this can relate to colloidal silica, which will affect the downstream treatment technologies and their ability to run efficiently.
You might also need to consider cold and warm lime softening and silica reduction campaigns such as aluminum-based coagulants . . . or membrane processes to remove colloidal materials and polish with carbon and ion exchange for your required boiler feed. So keep in mind that when choosing your optimal raw water treatment system, your specific process requirements will greatly affect your needs.
Once you’ve assessed which water source is best and have evaluated the quality of your chosen source, considering the technologies needed to treat your raw water source for your facility to get your water quality where it needs to be for your process will be a bit clearer.
The outcome of a thorough treatability study
A raw water treatability study is a study or test that will determine if the raw water can be treated for your process and how it needs to be treated. If the study is done correctly, it will clearly identify the problems you’re seeing in your feed water stream, helping ensure the proper treatment solutions are considered and implemented in your raw water treatment system.
This step is critically important when choosing the best raw water treatment system for your plant. After having a roadmap of maybe two or three technology platforms that meet your base and operating cost, running an efficient treatability test will help validate the assumptions you’ve made about possible contaminations and solutions to remove them.
Also keep in mind that even though the study might seem thorough on paper, there’s nothing better than running pilot testing in the field to validate the treatment/technology assumptions, optimize design, because during this phase, other problems can arise and be found prior to choosing the components of your system, which can help save you a lot of plant downtime and costly system equipment change-outs down the line.
How long will you be running your system?
Another factor that will help you determine the technology needed in your raw water treatment system is the length of time your plant will run. Will you be up and running for five years? Thirty?
This is important to consider, as this will help you choose the right materials needed for construction. For example, if you are a company who is purchasing a raw water treatment system for a temporary job, a system built with PVC and mobile skids might be a better option than something that is constructed permanently from sturdier materials and is meant to last you much longer. For a plant made with heartier materials, such as rubber-lined vessels and stainless steel piping, project costs will be higher initially, but the materials will outlast some of the wear and tear you might see with a system made from PVC.
This can also help you choose the best raw water treatment system by helping you evaluate the cost of the system. Many times when selecting a raw water treatment system, it’s common to only look at the capital cost. It’s important to also consider labor, operating cost, etc., over the lifecycle of the plant, as the least expensive capital cost might not always be the least expensive solution.
Most times the cost of operating the facility is much more than just the capital cost to build it when you’re looking at a 10- to 20-year lifecycle. Also, keep in mind that if your facility doesn’t have the staff available to manage more advanced technologies, your system choices might be lower in capital cost, but care must be given to bring on board the right team of individuals who can run the equipment. Another option is to choose simpler technologies that are within the realm of people who are operating and running the facility.
For a breakdown and explanation of how much a raw water treatment system might cost and all the factors that will affect the price of your system, see our blog article here.
Choosing the best raw water treatment system for your plant is a very complex process and requires a substantial amount of effort and time to do it properly.
Now that you know the most important aspects to focus on, make sure you choose to work with an engineering company that can help you sort through all these requirements in order to choose the best system possible. Knowing the quality of your water source in relation to the water quality needed for your process, performing a thorough treatability study and pilot test, and understanding the lifespan of your system will help steer you in the right direction.
SAMCO has over 40 years’ experience helping design and engineer some of the most complex raw water treatment systems, so for more information about what we can offer and how we can help you choose the best system possible for your facility, please visit our website services section or contact us and schedule a consultation with one of our skilled engineers.
Some other articles about raw water treatment systems you might be interested in include:
- Do You Need a Raw Water Treatment System for Your Plant?
- What is a Raw Water Treatment System and How Does it Work?
- Five Common Problems with Raw Water Treatment and How to Avoid Them
- Five Common Problems with Raw Water and How You Can Treat Them
- Treated vs. Untreated Raw Water for Your Plant
- 12 of the Best Raw Water Treatment Equipment Supply and Technology Companies
- How Much Does a Raw Water Treatment System Cost? (Pricing, Factors, Etc.)