Industrial Water Use and Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is moving higher on the priority list of companies, regulators and activists.

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by Francesca McCann

Sustainable development is moving higher on the priority list of companies, regulators and activists. We continue to see heightened awareness regarding the optimum use of scarce resources, and an increased demand for industrial wastewater treatment to counter overall pollution and contamination of water supplies.

Several treatment companies including GE, Siemens, ITT, Christ Water and Nalco have been introducing products and services targeted towards sustainable use of water resources. GE views “green” as profitable and the company has been marketing solutions that allow businesses to turn waste into value, a trend that is also gaining increased attention from investors. And a new campaign from Siemens is titled: “The Power of Green.” ITT is one of the few companies to be on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index every year since its inception in 1999. The company offers products and services that follow the entire water cycle from water intake and treatment to wastewater transportation, treatment and water return. Nalco, which has received the U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for its Ultimer® polymers, has been developing environmentally sustainable and safe solutions through its products, processes and technology. Christ Water, a Swiss-based industrial and municipal water and wastewater treatment company with worldwide operations, is concentrating on technological innovation and is benefiting from providing solutions to specialized industries like pharma & life science that range from treating raw water into Water for Injection (WFI) quality, to decontaminating wastewater discharges from the plants.

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In our view, increased water reuse and more efficient use of water in the industrial sector will be essential in addressing water scarcity in the coming decades. Advancements in industrial water treatment including water reuse technologies, ultrapure treatment enhancements, and facility redesign can decrease water consumption dramatically and provide some of the greatest growth opportunities in industrial water treatment. We also are seeing that a move toward newer and more water-intensive energy technologies like ethanol, oil sands and enhanced oil recovery is increasing demand for sustainable water use. We highlight Israel as an area with tremendous development in adoption of sustainable treatment technologies. We recently attended Israel’s largest water conference and expo, WATEC, and presented on a panel with U.S. and Israeli venture capitalists, discussing the most interesting areas of technological innovation and investment opportunities in water and “cleantech” – clean technology. The conference had nearly 3,000 people in attendance and ~150 companies were represented at the expo. Israel has been referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Water Technologies.” In Israel, there are ~125 water related start-ups. Additionally, in cleantech, there are ~150 energy-related and ~65 environmental technologies start-ups.

Venture money has been and will continue to pour into the water and cleantech sectors and many global technology developments spring from Israeli start-ups, winding up in the North American marketplace. Many countries will continue to look to Israel for desalination, reuse, recycling, and energy efficient water technologies.

About the Author: Francesca McCann is a senior vice president of the Stanford Washington Research Group, a member of the Stanford Financial Group, and a senior research associate for water/environment markets. Contact: www.stanfordgroup.com

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