Optimizing water treatment processes with new mineral-based solutions and technologies
Water purification is critical to the protection of both the environment and human health. Increased industrial activity and urbanization - coupled with rapid climate change - have led to a wider variety of pollutants and their metabolites finding their way into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Although overall industrial release of effluents to water bodies has dropped in the last decade, marked by a significant decrease in heavy metal emissions, this is not the case for substances such as nitrogen and phosphorus which have declined to a much lesser extent. In more recent years, ‘forever chemicals’ such as PFAS, emerging compounds such as drug / endocrine residues, microplastics and plastic filter media have joined the long list of pollutants deteriorating the quality of our water bodies.
Faced with increasingly stringent legislation - and under intense pressure from both governments and the general public to find sustainable solutions that support the circular economy - water treatment players and industry are seeking to optimize their existing water treatment processes or to find new, more sustainable materials and water purification technologies to support them.
Imerys minerals can help.
Meeting water treatment plant challenges with minerals
Backed by a wide portfolio of high-quality mineral resources, decades of mineral expertise and an in-depth understanding of water treatment technologies and markets, our scientists are working in tandem with key water treatment market players to explore new, sustainable mineral-based water treatment solutions and technologies that can help meet the major challenges facing the industry today: urbanization, evolving legislation, water conservation, the need to identify alternative water sources, environmental and sustainability concerns, and cost issues.
Some of the areas we are looking into where minerals could be valuable allies:
- Ammonia adsorption
- Micropollutant removal
- Replacement of plastics
- Design of new mineral-based filtering media
Today, only a handful of minerals are successfully used in water treatment applications. With 30 minerals sourced from over a hundred wholly owned mineral deposits to choose from, our water treatment specialists can analyze your specific requirements and then match, and subsequently engineer, the exact mineral grade to optimize your current processes, or help you develop a new process using innovative materials.
Tailor-made water treatment solutions and services
Our teams are available to work in partnership with water treatment technology developers, consulting and engineering companies, plant suppliers and construction companies, municipal DWTP and WWTP operators, industrial WWTP operators and research institutes and laboratories.
We can provide:
- Tailor-made solutions to meet your specific requirements
- Testing in our dedicated lab (flocculator, ICP desalination, etc.)
- On-site industrial testing in your existing systems
- Pilot services for testing new technologies
- Off- and on-site technical support
Our minerals can either replace the materials you currently use so as to optimize your process and help you reduce costs. Alternatively, we can help you find a completely new solution to help you respond to changes in legislation, for example.
In urban and industrial Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP)
In WWTP, minerals can serve as a media for microbial development, with or without the release of trace elements. Our minerals act as carriers and as substrates for the growth of specific microorganisms.
In Drinking Water Plants (DWTP)
In DWTP, minerals can be used at various stages of your drinking water purification process for water clarification / refining, where their adsorption / absorption properties or ion-exchange capacity allow you to reduce your reliance on chemical additives.
Minerals are essentially used as a support - in filtration equipment for example - or as adsorbent / exchange media for the adsorption of micropollutants.
- Filtration media: in granule form or in manufactured end products such as ceramics membranes, cartridges, etc.
- Adjuvants: as inert agents for improving sedimentation or chemical reactions, and as catalyst supports, nucleants, etc.
- Minerality improvers: for remineralization, decarbonation, pH control or as neutralization agents.
Bentonite provides high cationic exchange and superior adsorption and absorption for increased volume mass and settling. We are currently looking into the use of bentonite for the treatment and purification of process wastewater. Used in paper and pulp production, products such as our Aquamont grade are tried and tested solutions for retention, dewatering and deposit control during wet-end processing in deinked pulp (DIP) and Recycled Fibre (RCF).
Zeolite is interesting for removing cationic elements in water such as ammonia. Our new ImerPure Z range is your solution of choice for ammonia removal in urban and industrial wastewater treatment plants.
Diatomite is a highly porous mineral ideal for filtration and pre-treatment before reverse osmosis to remove particles and protect membranes.
Perlite is an excellent, highly porous filter aid and an inert carrier for actives.
Calcium Carbonate is suitable for use in drinking water for mineralization, pH neutralization, and protecting infrastructure against corrosion.
We are also looking at:
- Calcined kaolin as biological filter media as a substrate for bacteria development
- Talc as a spot treatment to handle filamentous bacteria during wastewater treatment.
Other potential mineral candidates include moler, kaolin, ball clay and magnesium oxide.
Our solutions are based on minerals of natural origin. This makes them safe, sustainable alternatives to chemicals, ion-exchange resins and other synthetic materials used in water purification processes. Minerals can also be potentially regenerated after use and then used over and over again in your water treatment cycle without losing their original properties - or they can be recovered for use elsewhere.
Our teams are currently working on creating synergies between industrial waste producers that use minerals in their processes and potential end users - in agriculture or the building industry, for example.
If you have waste which is essentially mineral-based, don’t hesitate to contact us to allow us to assess their potential for re-use in our production chains.