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Wastewater recycling.

Wastewater treatment innovations are increasingly focusing on wastewater reuse and resource recovery, both to address water scarcity and regulations, and to offset some of the cost of advanced technology.

Wastewater treatment technology innovations are increasingly aimed at both reuse and resource recovery, according to a new report from analysts at Frost & Sullivan.

The study, “Innovations in Wastewater Treatment and Its Impact on Key Sectors,” finds organizations are using advanced oxidation processes, membrane filtration, and anaerobic digestion to meet these goals, making them the three most popular wastewater treatment technologies.

Wastewater treatment users have often been wary of technology and have demanded proven methods because of cost concerns. The Frost & Sullivan analysts found that resource recovery solutions have been overcoming this objection because they bring in money that helps users quickly recover their investments.

Wastewater Resource Recovery

Analysts say agriculture is the industry sector poised to benefit the most from resource recovery technologies: “[W]ater, energy, algae and nutrients recovered from wastewater will find significant application in this space.”

Another potential benefit, according to Jennifer Tan, a TechVision senior analyst for Frost & Sullivan, is cross-sector collaboration:

Wastewater resource recovery holds the potential to stoke cross-sector collaborations as well, since resources recovered from one sector can be used in another. […] Such collaborations reduce risks in any new endeavor and lower the resistance to innovations.

Water Scarcity and Tighter Regulation

Increasing worries about water pollution and water scarcity are stimulating innovation in wastewater reuse, resource recovery, and allied technologies

Tan said more stringent regulations are motivating researchers to step up the pace of innovation to assure industry and organizations are compliant. For example, wastewater discharge regulations specific to the pharmaceutical industry have become stricter worldwide. In the United States, wastewater effluent guidelines for discharges from power generation have become increasingly rigorous.

To ensure compliance with all the applicable regulations and standards, a wide range of industries are seeking to reduce the volume of effluent produced and also to reuse wastewater.

Water Reuse

Water reuse is an important nontraditional water source employed in many nations to stave off water scarcity. China, Mexico, and the U.S. are the nations with the most wastewater reuse, but it is also an important water management practice in Qatar, Israel, Singapore, and Kuwait.

Nontraditional water sources can help governments diversify water supplies and increase their reliability. In addition to water reuse, nontraditional sources include desalination, as well as harvesting rainwater, storm water, and greywater.

A related top trend, according to the study, is the increased use of customized modular systems for decentralized, remote locations and sustainable wastewater treatment.

Money Concerns Holding Back Progress

The Frost & Sullivan report notes that progress in some areas of the world, particularly developing nations, is being held back by a lack of resources. In low-income nations, the report finds, only 8 percent of the wastewater generated is treated. Tan added:

Compliance with more stringent regulations often entails higher wastewater treatment costs, and developing countries may not have the resources to meet these higher effluent standards. […] Moreover, state-of-the-art technologies too may prove inadequate in terms of cost and energy savings.

This makes continued technology development vital, read the information here. Addressing issues such as cost and efficiency will accelerate the use of wastewater treatment systems.

The study — “Innovations in Wastewater Treatment and Its Impact on Key Sectors” — is a product of part of the Frost & Sullivan TechVision practice, which examines innovation, disruption, and convergence around technology solutions for the environment.

Image by toa55 / 123RF Stock Photo.