Water systems and treatments for power plants to consider

Water systems - power plantsWater systems - power plants
Water systems - power plantsWater systems - power plants


Water systems and treatments for power plants to consider

Power plants aren’t known for their environmentally friendly practices. But that doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything good to make up for the necessary harm. Look at the Avon peaking power station for example. They have installed water management and treatment systems to reduce the negative impact of their effluent water that is redistributed into nearby estuaries.

There are many instances where water is used in a power plant and water recycling and treatment efforts are necessary to address the water shortage problems of many areas around South Africa and the world.

Every power plant can reduce production costs as well as their negative environmental impact by investing in water treatment systems. While the initial cost may be large, there is a great return on investment opportunity and power plants can continue to generate power while attempting to address their social responsibility of a greener society.


Water systems used to treat water used by power plants

There are four different water systems which can be considered by power plants. These systems are installed to clean contaminated water runoffs from power plant activities in order to reuse or redistribute the (then) potable water. The type of water system will depend on the volume and sources of effluent water produced but, with the help of water specialists, they will be able to advise you on the best options for your power plant.      

  • Media filtration: Media filters make use of sand, shredded tyres, gravel, crushed glass or other fine-materials in a series of layers to filter water in a tank. Each layer acts as a filter for various types of impurities until it is fully cleared.
  • Reverse osmosis: Another water purification system is reverse osmosis. This system uses a semipermeable membrane (biological or synthetic) that water passes through. The membrane prevents certain particles, ions and molecules from passing through and thus acts as a filter but is a different process from filtration systems. Reverse osmosis uses pressure to diffuse unwanted particles as opposed to simply straining them as a filter would.
  • Electro-deionisation: With electricity, ion-exchange membranes and resin, an electro-deionisation water system are able to separate impurities from the water without chemicals and as a post-treatment after reverse osmosis.
  • Physical-chemical processes: A common method for treating water is through chemicals. Depending on the source of the water and the contaminants it contains, different chemicals will be used to purify the water.

Water systems can be designed and installed specifically for your power plant and the water treatment solutions it needs. There is a strong likelihood that a power plant will require more than one onsite activated water system so you’ll need to create a budget for this venture. Remember, the initial cost will be worth the long-term results.


Water applications in power plants and treatment solutions

Most power plants require the following types of water, and water treatments based on how and where they use their water. These are only a few of the applications of water used by power plants, but it’s possible to treat all power plant water resources through the above water filtration, purification and recycling systems.  

  • Boiler feed water: Boilers are used by power plants in the power generation process through high-pressure steam. The water in the boiler feeds (used to produce steam) needs to be high-quality to prevent corrosion, scaling and damage. This is why the treatment of boiler feed water is so necessary to save power plants from sitting with damaged equipment and a pause in the production process. The water systems used to prepare and treat boiler feed water is usually reverse osmosis and electro-deionisation.  
  • Cooling water circuit treatment: The reason why you usually find a lake or large water source around a power plant is because that water is usually used for cooling the steam and cleaning the equipment. Power plants generally connect it in a closed-loop system that draws water for cooling, which then evaporates. Alternatively, power plants can use an open-loop circuit that draws water for use and pumped back into the water reserve. This open-loop system will require a water treatment and recycling solution to ensure it remains portable and habitable to the marine life that may occur there.
  • Oily effluent treatment: It’s not uncommon for there to be a build up of oily effluent water in a power station environment. And while most power station managers may think this effluent unusable, there are oily effluent treatments that can separate the oil and provide an opportunity for reuse. Some of the water systems used in this treatment include chemical demulsifiers, oil skimmers, dissolved-air flotation devices and absorption filtration systems.

South Africa has had its fair share of water shortages. If every industry could install water management systems and start recycling their water, we could save billions of litres every single day. There’s almost always a water treatment solution and it’s time to start investing in greener industrial practices. 

Water systems - power plants