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We are leaders in ZLD

Jan 01, 2020
We are leaders in ZLD

A A pioneer of water treatment in India with a legacy spanning over five decades, Ion Exchange (India) Ltd. is recognised internationally as a premier company in water and environment management. Ion Exchange is among the largest environment solution providers, one of very few companies worldwide with a complete range of technologies, products and comprehensive 24x7 service support.

Ajay Popat, President, Ion Exchange (India) Ltd., has over 35 years of experience in strategy, business and organisation development with leading organisations like Resins & Plastics (then a subsidiary of Asian Paints), Pidilite Industries and Ion Exchange. Associated with Ion Exchange since 1994, he has spearheaded several initiatives in developing and successfully commercialising proprietary, advanced and sustainable technologies for purification and separation in water, wastewater treatment and more recently in areas of renewable energy in compliance with legal, environmental, economic and social requirement of our country.

Popat speaks with the ITJ on the importance of ZLD for the textile industry, and various technologies that are available in these spheres and the developments at Ion Exchange.

How important is zero liquid discharge (ZLD) for the Indian textile industry at this juncture?

ZLD is very important for the textile industry because it requires huge amount of water to manufacture its products. Waste is generated in large volumes, which needs treatment before it is discharged. Since water consumption is very large, it is prudent to do ZLD or near ZLD (recycle) by which the industry is able to meet the discharge norms. For some companies, this becomes a source of water as municipal corporations give priority to agriculture or consumers. Also the price at which the water is supplied by the municipal corporations to the industry is very high with a regular hike every year. Hence it makes sense to recycle water.

With regards to water & waste treatment, etc. what are today’s Ion Exchange’s involvement in the textile industry? What are the various technologies available in these spheres and what are the developments at Ion Exchange?

Most textile industry is situated in areas where they would either depend on groundwater or surface water. Groundwater has hardness and will impair the quality of production. In the textile industry, water is used for three applications – production and utility requirements (cooling towers and boilers) and for sanitary applications. In all these areas, quality of water is of utmost importance.

Ion Exchange offers products like softeners to reduce hardness from groundwater, which is contaminated with calcium and magnesium. If the total dissolved solid (TDS) is high (more than 100 ppm), we recommend Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems to reduce salinity and associated hardness.

The company also offers a wide range of demineralization plants where the industry requires very high quality water – both for the process as well as boilers. We offer speciality water treatment chemicals for cooling towers to improve its hygiene, performance and efficiency. We provide an entire package of cooling towers and boiler treatment chemicals, speciality coagulants and flocculants as well as colour removal polyelectrolytes for waste treatment.

Ion Exchange resins are widely used not only for softening and demineralization, but also for colour removal. These resins compliment colour removal through chemical and biological processes. We supply a range of biological processes – aerobic and anaerobic. Our membrane system—both spiral and disc & tube ROs are used to enhance maximum recovery. We have invested in a state-of-the-art membrane manufacturing facility in Goa, which offers the widest range of membranes for all requirements of textile industry.

For complete ZLD, we offer a range of evaporators. All of these products and services are backed by 24x7 maintenance services thus providing 360 degree solutions for the water needs of the textile industry.

How has been the response from the industry in application of solutions in these areas? If any brief case study, please tell us.

There is a lack of awareness amongst the industry on available technologies and processes. Eg. A textile industry in Tirupur decided to opt for ZLD and many evaporators were sold to solve waste related problems. As you know, most of the evaporators failed. Unfortunately, the users suffered despite investments on such costly equipments.

Ion Exchange prefers to work with the customers like a consultant. We make them aware and advise them on the right technology option. As I mentioned earlier, we have the widest range of products/technologies, be it biological membrane, evaporation or ion exchange. We have all the technologies for wastewater treatment and recycle and we promote only the right product and technology. We supply pilots to establish proof of concept before finalising the treatment processes.

We at Ion Exchange are very proud of our project at Welspun which is one of the biggest terry towel manufactures and the largest exporter of home textiles in the world. Welspun is situated in the highly arid Kutch region where freshwater is very scarce. Ion Exchange partnered with Welspun to design, erect and commission a sewage treatment and recycle plant along with operation and maintenance. We have supplied a state-of-the-art 30 MLD sewage treatment which now acts as an alternate source of water and a 2.4 MLD effluent recycle plant to help make available good quality recycled water for use by Welspun.

Do you think the Governments should extend more sops to encourage wastewater treatment and recycling? If so, what are your suggestions and wish-list?

While any form of support from the Government or enforcement agency is welcome, most of the textile companies are doing it without too much help on sops or subsidies. Our technology to achieve ZLD has a robust payback on the investment.

Please give us some information on the new Ion Exchange’s R&D set-up in Telengana.

From our very beginning, we have given emphasis on R&D resulting in patents, most of them commercialized. We have a very good R&D centre in Hyderabad and a technology centre in Mumbai. The R&D team does fundamental research in the areas of chemicals, resins, membranes, polymers, etc., while the technology centre converts these products into processes / systems.

We recently inaugurated a brand new facility in Telangana with an objective to strengthen our R&D. The new centre will provide technical and scientific support to the company’s existing technology and engineering segments for designing new processes and products.

With an investment of around Rs 300 million, the R&D centre will focus on developing new resins, membranes, polymers, speciality chemicals and technologies related to water, wastewater treatment, process separation and purification, speciality process application and catalysis. The microbiology lab within the centre will lay emphasis on enzyme research and application specifically for the textile and food and beverage industry. This state-of-the-art R&D centre is spread over 24,000 sq ft and certified by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). It includes latest analytical instruments and is manned by a team of highly qualified and experienced researchers. With continued innovations, the new R&D centre will offer newer, value added solutions to its customers in India and across geographies we serve.

What are the future plans of Ion Exchange to strengthen the division, which provides solution to these problems waste and recycling in the textile industry?

We will not only continue to invest and innovate in technology and R&D, but also in development projects. We can also undertake projects on Build own operate /transfer (BOO/T) models.

Wastewater management is crucial to attain sustainability at all levels. From your experience and perspectives, how do you rate India in this aspect compared to some countries in Europe and Asia? How can one compare the effluent management practices in India with other developing countries?

The standards that we have in India are as good as standards across the world. Even the compliance levels have increased immensely. I will say we have helped create several benchmarks using some of the best technologies and processes and are proud of our contributions in this sector.