How to identify your requirements for water reuse from an understanding of the water matrix and different types of industrial processes

Get an insight into the different load types and industrial processes, and what it means for the water quality requirements for your water reuse system.

In this module, we will look at the importance of understanding the water matrix, types of industrial processes and different types of water, so that you can identify the kind of water treatment and water quality requirements for the water reuse system.

Before we talk about Industrial water reuse processes, let’s briefly discuss water treatment. Water treatment describes processes to make water suitable for a desired end use. These can be for drinking water, industrial processes, medical purposes and many more.

Water treatment involves content removal and adding content, depending on the given and the required water quality. All else is water transfer – meaning the water intake before treatment, and water distribution after treatment.

If you wish to find out more, please go to the ECADEMY course ‘Industrial water treatment’ for a general introduction to water treatment in industrial processes, including a more detailed survey of the different process steps.

When designing a suitable water reuse process, it is essential to understand your water source, the given water quality, the contaminants present in the water, and whether the load type is organic, inorganic or mixed. You can then identify whether the water matrix is complex or simple.

Furthermore, the intended use following the reuse process defines how deep we need to go in the treatment process and what constitutes an adequate treatment method. At this point, the industry sector can be matched to the water matrix to show which treatment strategy is required.

Industries with primarily organic content loads include:

The food and beverage industry generally has high loads of organic content which is relatively easy to treat.

More difficult but less heavily-loaded is pharmaceuticals, where removing specific substances may require special treatment.

Pulp and paper industrial processes on the other hand normally have high solids content and are more likely to require filtration.

For industry segments contending with inorganic wastewater, salt content is in general the most usual contaminant:

This is true for the steel, automotive mining, marine and semi-conductor industries, as well as power plants

Chlorides, Sulphates and such like create a high salinity, leading to high pressure demands in the treatment required, for example with Reverse Osmosis and Nanofiltration.

Heavy metals, poisonous substances and radioactivity from mining provide special challenges not only for water treatment but also for solids handling afterwards.

Mixed organic and inorganic loads include the chemical, plastics, print industries, recycling and petroleum industries, as well as industrial parks.

The textile industry is an example of a segment with mixed loads, however this is because the water has organic and inorganic contaminants depending on the production step.

Let’s recap what we have presented in this module:

-The importance of understanding the water source, given water quality, the contaminants present in the water, and whether the load type is organic, inorganic or mixed.

-How industrial water treatment must always be matched to the desired end use.

-Matching the industry segment to the water matrix and seeing which treatment strategy is required.

Course overview

Modules: 5
Completion time
Completion time: 30 minutes
Difficulty level
Difficulty level: Advanced