Every industry faces the need to cool down equipment to execute their manufacturing processes. Often, cooling towers are used to achieve this outcome. Membrion recently completed a pilot showing successful results in significantly reducing cooling tower blowdown (also called “bleed down”) with minimal pre-treatment and no chemicals. Our approach was a departure from traditional cooling tower water treatments as we continuously demineralized cooling tower basin water instead of treating the make-up water or blowdown directly.
In traditional applications where cooling towers are used, water that contains trace amounts of salt is pumped in and sprayed onto a coil to cool it down. When water hits the hot coil, some of the water evaporates and the process leaves salt behind in a now lower volume of water (i.e. higher concentration). New water is added to the tower to replace what has evaporated and the cycle continues. Over time, salt builds up in the water and can precipitate on the coils leading to inefficiencies and poor heat transfer.
Because of these scaling salts, there are limits on the number of times the process can be repeated. The pump may circulate the water of increasing salinity and the process often repeats for three to six cycles. After those cycles, the water being reprocessed reaches a high salinity tolerance and all the water must be blown out of the systems. Afterward, this water is replaced, and the entire process starts again. The number of times the water recirculates is known as the cycles of concentration (CoC).
Membrion’s innovation, which incorporates its CeramIX® ceramic ion exchange membrane, is to prevent the minerals from building up in the first place. Pulling out minerals slowly over time ensures that the cooling tower can continue recycling its water, leading to higher CoC. This first pilot is the tip of the iceberg as numerous others are teed up over the next few months. By incorporating the CeramIX® membrane from Membrion, an international cooling tower company reduced blowdown by 70 – 85% and achieved consistent operation at > 20 CoC.
Cooling towers use and waste a lot of water. This new, high-value approach from Membrion can be paired with existing or new cooling towers and enables users across multiple industries to improve their water savings. This process is useful for semiconductor manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, nuclear power plants, food and beverage, and more. We believe this process will be leveraged across industries because achieving > 20 CoC without the use of chemicals sets a new performance bar.
Membrion’s CeramIX® membranes leveraged for cooling tower applications is a low-cost, sustainable solution for water conservation, water reuse, water recovery, and wastewater.