• Energy efficiency and affordability delivered by FILMTEC membrane technology encourage wider adoption of desalination
MIDLAND, MI, July 10, 2007 -- Dow Water Solutions, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company and its affiliates, today announced that its advanced FILMTEC™ membrane technology is at the heart of Western Australia's largest seawater desalination plant. The newly-commissioned Perth Seawater Desalination Plant, currently the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, significantly improves the availability of drinking water for more than 200,000 Perth residents.
"Previously, the high costs associated with desalination hindered interest in abundantly available seawater as a potential fresh water source," said Karen Dobson, Dow Water Solutions global product market manager for FILMTEC membranes. "The successful operation of the Perth desalination plant is further proof that we have in our hands a technology that can help alleviate water supply problems in an affordable and sustainable way."
This announcement underscores Dow's strategy to invest in its performance businesses, and also illustrates the Company's commitment to help provide pure water for both industrial and drinking water applications globally as part of its 2015 Sustainability Goals.
The AU $324 million facility, located in Kwinana, Australia, 40 kilometers south of Perth, became fully operational on April 18, 2007 and is operated by Degrémont in alliance with the Water Corporation of Western Australia. FILMTEC™ seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) and brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) elements from Dow used at the facility help to enable desalination of 144,000 m3 of seawater per day.
Advancements in Reverse Osmosis Membrane Technology
Advancements in SWRO membrane technology in the last 20 years have dramatically reduced energy usage, lowered overall treatment costs and raised water quality. Improvements achieved by Dow -- enhanced membrane throughput, higher rejection of dissolved solids and organics, reduced pressure requirement -- have helped cut the cost of water produced with reverse osmosis (RO) nearly threefold, while increasing water volume, purity and membrane service life. These factors have become increasingly important to water treatment plant specialists like Degrémont.
"Combined with our expertise in water treatment system design, the high performance of FILMTEC membrane technology allows us to provide high purity water to the residents of Perth in an affordable way," said Gontzal Lorenzo of Degrémont, a joint venture partner responsible for design and construction at Perth. The plant was built by a joint venture between Multiplex and Degrémont.
FILMTEC elements combine excellent membrane performance with automated precision fabrication, enabling higher solids and organics rejection, lower energy usage, and higher consistency. The optimal design and reliability of FILMTEC elements reduce system capital and operating costs, making reverse osmosis desalination more affordable.
Gary Crisp of the Water Corporation said, "Solving the growing problem of water shortage in this region requires unconventional sources, the most obvious being the ocean. Dow is providing the right medium for turning seawater into drinking water that helps to meet the daily needs of 17 percent of Perth's population, as well as its needs for energy conservation and consistent system performance."
Perth: The RO Technology at Work
The Perth desalination facility, which is powered by wind, draws seawater from Cockburn Sound. The feedwater is pre-treated and then passed through a two-pass RO system which helps to achieve high-quality desalinated water. After the first-pass, which consists of six SWRO membrane trains, the permeate passes through six second-pass BWRO membrane trains. The recovery rates of the first and second passes are 45 percent and 90 percent respectively. After post-treatment, the water enters the Integrated Water Supply Scheme (IWSS), Australia's largest public water supply system, for distribution.
The specific energy consumption (SEC) of the first pass seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) component is 2.6 kWh/m3, which, along with other energy-reducing measures, contributes to a total plant SEC of less than 3.8 kWh/m3. This includes energy for the drinking water forwarding pumps.
The Perth plant shows that desalination can be an effective and affordable option for producing water in water-stressed regions, as well as in municipalities looking to diversify their water supply sources. Dow is focused on continuous advancements in FILMTEC™ membrane technology and in manufacturing capabilities to enable more large-scale desalination and water purification projects worldwide.
Dow Water Solutions is a performance-based business unit comprised of leading world-class brands and enabling component technologies designed to advance the science of water purification around the world, including seawater desalination, contaminant removal and water reuse. With more than 1,000 employees worldwide, the business maintains five production facilities globally to manufacture, market and sell FILMTEC™ reverse osmosis membranes, DOWEX™ ion exchange resins, ADSORBSIA™ GTO™ titanium-based arsenic removal media, ultrafiltration, and electrodeionization components. Dow Water Solutions also manufactures, markets and sells premier water purification systems in China.
Dow is a diversified chemical company that harnesses the power of innovation, science and technology to constantly improve what is essential to human progress. The Company offers a broad range of products and services to customers in more than 175 countries, helping them to provide everything from fresh water, food and pharmaceuticals to paints, packaging and personal care products.