Real-Time Control System Optimizes Filter Backwashing

Control technology optimizes membrane filtration system performance to reduce downtime, save on energy costs and conserve water

Jun 1st, 2016
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California-based Water Planet, which develops high-performance membrane-based water reuse and desalination technologies, was one of 11 companies taking part in the Innovation Showcase at BlueTech Forum on June 1 in San Francisco. The company’s core water treatment innovation is IntelliFlux, artificial intelligence-based control system software that can be integrated with filtration equipment to help operators optimize backwashing processes.

“It’s no secret that the throughput of filters declines over time as fouling occurs,” said Eric Hoek, Water Planet’s founder and chief executive. “This means more energy is required to push the water through. Filter cleaning can be a costly process involving expensive chemicals or downtime — which is a real killer from the economic perspective.”

Water Planet’s IMS-500 pilot unit comprising mechanical oil-water separator, ceramic ultrafiltration membranes and dewatering centrifuge.

According to Hoek, IntelliFlux can help reduce these costs and conserve water by automatically optimizing filter operating conditions in real-time. The control technology runs a filtration system using artificial intelligence, adjusting backwashing and cleaning in response to filtration performance.

“Our artificial intelligence-based controls technology becomes smarter over time, factoring in variables like the time of day or seasonal fluctuations,” said Hoek.

IntelliFlux was initially developed to run on Water Planet’s IMS-5000 oil-water separation system, but can now be used with any filtration system. The company, which started up in 2011, is already operating globally, with installations in the U.S., Canada and Kuwait.

Case Study: Bakersfield, CA

Delegates to BlueTech Forum heard how IntelliFlux was integrated into the advanced treatment process being piloted at a proposed water recycling facility in Bakersfield, Calif. The facility is being used to demonstrate better options for managing produced water from the oil and gas industry and now provides an offsite disposal option, transferring purified water to food and beverage processers and drought-hit farms.

The facility comprises two IMS-5000 ceramic ultrafiltration membrane units integrated with a mechanical oil-water-solids separation pretreatment unit, which removes oil, grease and suspended solids. A PRO-500 reverse osmosis desalination unit removes dissolved salts, metals and organics.

IntelliFlux was initially developed to run on Water Planet’s IMS-5000 oil-water separation system (shown here) but can now be used with any filtration system.

BlueTech Research analyst Graeme Pearce said,“Filter fouling is a particular problem for produced water treatment in the oil and gas sector, so a technology that improves the efficiency and reliability of backwashing and cleaning operations represents a strong market opportunity.”

“The oil and gas sector has experienced a slowdown in recent months,” added BlueTech Research Chief Executive Paul O’Callaghan, “but the opportunities that will continue to open up are for technologies that save on operating costs and conserve water. Water Planet has a technology that offers lower cost, lower energy consumption and better performance than its competitors, with more water being produced per dollar invested.”

For more information, visit www.bluetechforum.com.

About the Company: BlueTech® Research provides investors, water companies, researchers and regulators with critical analysis on emerging water technology market areas. Learn more at www.bluetechresearch.com

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