GE provides sustainable water solution to Hamilton Sands Separation Plant

Australian minerals producer Iluka requires 250 ML of water each year -- almost 1 ML/day -- for sands separation. This represents over 20% of annual demand on the Hamilton water supply, depleting resources for potable water and industrial applications. Through a GE solution employed by GRWA, Iluka makes do with much less water. Using recycled water from the plant isn't only a sustainable solution but also ensures the separation plant can operate at full capacity even in severe droughts...

TREVOSE, PA, May 22, 2006 -- In Australia, much of the southeastern seaboard has been experiencing drought conditions for the past six to seven years. In 2003, water reservoirs in Melbourne were only at 40% capacity, while many regional water storages were at 10%. In addition, there has been increasing competition for water from irrigators, urban/domestic, industrial and mining users. Water restrictions are in effect and, in some form, these restrictions may be applied on a permanent basis.

Iluka Resources, a world leader in the production of titanium minerals (used to manufacture paint and protective coatings) and zircon (used in ceramics) established a mineral sands separation and processing plant at Hamilton, one of Victoria's major regional centres. The plant is located on land adjacent to the wet weather storage facility for secondary treated wastewater from Hamilton and requires 250 ML of water each year -- almost 1 ML/day -- for sands separation.

Unfortunately, this sizable water requirement represents more than 20% of the existing annual demand on the Hamilton water supply system and this large demand not only depletes water resources for potable water but for other industrial applications as well.

To meet the plant's water needs while complying with the state's water-recycling mandate, Iluka turned to the Glenelg Region Water Authority (GRWA). GRWA is a leading proponent of water recycling and has, in recent years, been using all the treated wastewater from the Hamilton Wastewater Treatment Plant as irrigation water in various innovative tree plantation, grazing and associated fodder programs.

GRWA -- which merged with two other authorities in July 2005 to form Wannon Water -- was commissioned to design and construct a AU$2m Class A reclaimed water treatment plant for Iluka's mineral sands processing plant. The plant would be designed to employ the latest ultrafiltration (UF) technology from GE Water & Process Technologies, removing most parasites, bacteria and enteric viruses from the recycled water.

Completed in April 2005, the new facility is only the second ultrafiltration treatment plant in Victoria for Class A recycled water, producing 0.85 ML of Class A process water per day. The plant uses hollow-fiber ultra-filtration technology under license from Norit, which features 100 micron disc filter pre-treatment and 0.03 micron membrane pore size. It also incorporates 4-log design virus reduction to achieve <1 virus/50L.

The amount of water -- Class A or otherwise -- available for businesses such as Iluka is extremely limited. Yet through the ingenuity of the GE solution employed by GRWA, Iluka has made a very small amount of water more than enough. Using recycled water from the plant instead of drinking water is not only a sustainable solution but also ensures Iluka's separation plant can operate at full capacity even in severe droughts.

Based in Trevose, PA, GE Water & Process Technologies (www.gewater.com), a unit of GE Infrastructure, is a leading global supplier of water treatment, wastewater treatment and process systems solutions.

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