/ Antwerp –
Thanks to a new desalination plant, the Antwerp chemical companies Covestro and Evonik will be able to use brackish water for their industrial processes from 2024. Thanks to the investment, companies could reduce their drinking water consumption by 98 percent and thus save millions of liters of drinking water every year, reported the chemical umbrella organization Essenscia on Friday.
Water is a crucial raw material in the chemical sector that is also used to generate steam or as cooling water. Chemical companies in the port of Antwerp also pump up drinking water from the Albert Canal for this process water. A new water factory could change that from 2024.
Covestro and Evonik are the first to join an infrastructure project by the American investment company AVAIO and the AECOM Group, reports Essenscia. The company is planning to build a desalination plant in which brackish water will be docked, desalinated and purified to process water. The water factory will be located on the Covestro site and will supply Evonik via a new pipeline along the Scheldelaan.
With the plant, which should be built from 2022 and be operational by 2024, Covestro and Evonik can reduce their drinking water consumption by 98 percent. That would only be necessary for sanitary processes.
Even better than drinking water
The water factory can save water annually, which corresponds to the average drinking water consumption of around 40,000 families. According to the initiators, it will be possible to expand the water factory even further so that other companies can connect. The desalinated harbor water is not only a full alternative to drinking water, it is also even better suited for chemical processes. For example, the salt load or the concentration of minerals in process water is five times lower than that of drinking water. Since the water contains less salt, it is more suitable for chemical installations. That means less water consumption, less wastewater and fewer chemicals for water treatment.
“In economically difficult times, this is positive investment news with an extremely sustainable character,” says Frank Beckx, Managing Director of Essenscia Flanders. “Only 6 percent of the total water consumption of chemical and pharmaceutical companies is drinking water. In addition, the sector has already reduced drinking water consumption in absolute numbers by 15 percent between 2007 and 2017. With this unique project, the chemical sector is again achieving significant savings in drinking water consumption through its own financing, which is in line with the ambitions of the “Blue Deal” of the Flemish government.