Saving for the Future: ZeeWeed Helps Degremont Conserve 40 Billion Liters of Water Annually0

Ysabel Yates | Tue Dec 18 2012

The surface of the Earth is mostly water, but less than one percent is available to drink. Water scarcity in the U.S. and around the world is a growing concern. Water reuse is one of the most cost-effective and beneficial conservation strategies.

Nearly 1,000 plants worldwide now use GE’s ZeeWeed membrane bioreactor system to conserve and reuse wastewater, save energy and reduce environmental impacts. Over the past ten years, Degrémont – one of the world’s leading water treatment companies – and GE have helped more than 60 local municipalities and industries, including refining and petrochemical, save over 40 billion liters of water per year using ZeeWeed.

Where does that 40 billion liters of saved water go? The newly purified water is reused in industrial processes, for irrigation and the watering of parkland (where regulations permit), which preserves water resources by limiting the use of drinking water.

To mark the milestone and celebrate 10 years of partnership between the two companies, GE presented Degrémont with an ecomagination Leadership Award. The award recognizes the achievements of industrial users that significantly surpass and improve environmental and industrial operational goals while balancing industrial demands.

“Reusing water for industrial applications allows our customers to avoid using valuable drinking water as feed source. By providing more than 60 of our customers with GE’s ZeeWeed technology has allowed us to help them collectively reuse more than 40 billion liters of water,” said Pierre Yves Pouliquen, director of Degrémont’s French business. “We are honored that GE has recognized us for an ecomagination award.”

The sixty projects all use GE’s ZeeWeed 500 and ZeeWeed 1000 reinforced, hollow-fiber membranes, an advanced filtration technology that separates particles, bacteria and viruses from water or wastewater. The state-of-the-art technology has stood the test of time in over two decades of wastewater treatment and water reuse applications.

“We have noticed an ongoing trend that industrial users around the world are focusing more on decreasing their water footprint to reuse water, lower costs and minimize environmental impact. Degrémont and its customers are examples to follow concerning the manner in which certain local authorities and petrochemical and refining industries can successfully reuse water,” said Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.

Treating the water with the ZeeWeed 500 has two main steps. In the first, the water travels through a pipe, goes through screens to remove pieces of plastic and then goes into a tank where microbes eat it — hence the term bioreactor.

In the second stage, the treated water moves into a separate tank, which holds the membranes. The membranes are called ZeeWeed because they move in the tank like seaweed underwater.

Treated water from ZeeWeed’s Ultrafiltration system has a very high purity and low silt density. It serves as a pretreatment for surface water, seawater and biologically treated municipal effluent, and is used in industrial applications to separate suspended solids from solution.

Top image: “When water drops collide” Courtesy Flickr user laszlo-photo