The quality of water processed by conventional chemical treatment systems is not good enough to be recycled and re-used as rinse water. The quality of water recycled by the Blue Spring system is better than the quality of city water.
From a practical point of view, the results of the conventional chemical precipitation system are so uncertain that most local environmental protection agencies require continuous pH monitoring and frequent chemical analysis of the discharge stream. This places a financial burden on the business and causes constant headaches for management. The Blue Spring system has no discharge, so the question of monitoring is irrelevant.
Q. How does PrecipROTM system differ from ion-exchange type closed-loop water recycling system?
A. From the environmental point of view, an ion-exchange type water recycling system is undesirable because it generates more liquid sludge than it begins with. This is because of the chemicals required for regeneration of the ion-exchange resins. Typically, an ion-exchange process generates 2.5 - 7 lbs. of TDS (total dissolved solids) for each pound of TDS it removes. The ion-exchange process is non-selective to ions which means even salts of sodium and potassium must be first absorbed and then released. The final result is a large amount of liquid sludge and a large release of TDS into the environment. The underground drinking water supplies are constantly concentrated in TDS because of such industrial processes.
From technical point of view, the ion-exchange process is incapable of removing non-ionized chemicals from the waste water. Examples of such chemicals not removed by ion-exchange based system are: surfactants, chelating agents, complexing agents, polymeric coagulating agents, flocculating agents. That means such chemicals will be present in the recycled rinse water and they will accumulate rather quickly in the rinse tanks. That means the rinse quality will degrade. The PrecipRO process uses reverse osmosis which is known to remove all kinds of impurities from water; not just ions. That means the rinse water is constantly purified as it recycles through the system and a good rinse quality is maintained.
From economical point of view, the ion-exchange system costs an order of magnitude more to operate compared with PrecipRO system or a regular waste water treatment system. The customers should realize that operation of the waste water management system is a major cost burden on the business. Not so with PrecipRO system because it costs less to recycle water than to buy fresh water and to discharge it. The equipment cost for ion-exchange system can be lower than PrecipRO system, if tank-exchange service is used, but in that case, the tank-exchange service cost is extremely high. There are problems with carrying hazardous waste off-site. According to the grand-father clause, the waste generator is eternally liable should some mishap happen during transportation, handling, storage and processing of the hazardous waste at the off-site regeneration facility. On-site regeneration equipment costs about same as the PrecipRO system but it generates a large amount of sludge as mentioned above. That means the cost of hauling away the final liquid sludge is several times higher than PrecipRO system of comparable capacity. This is in addition to the several-times-higher operating cost of the ion-exchange system. In general, ion-exchange systems are such high negative cash-flow generators that they become burden on the business.
Q. How does PrecipROTM system differ from electro-coagulation system?
A. Electro-coagulation system is a waste water treatment system. It is not a closed-loop recycling system. PrecipRO is a closed-loop waste water recycling system. In the electro-coagulation system, the waste water is treated and then discharged. It differs from conventional waste water treatment system only in the method of metal ion precipitation and coagulation. Electro-coagulation systems are more expensive to operate because of extremely low electrode efficiencies involved. Most of the electrical energy is wasted in heating up the waste water. Furthermore, the electrodes are made of iron. They are consumable which means they generate excessive amount of sludge in addition to the sludge produced by the original metal ions present. For these reasons, the electro-coagulation system is environmentally unfriendly and it is more expensive to operate in comparison with the Blue Spring PrecipRO system. Electro-coagulation systems are not suitable for water recycling because they do not purify water. Also, the buildup of heat in the discharged water makes it unsuitable for recycling, unless a cooling system is used in which case the operating cost would be prohibitive.
Q. How does PrecipROTM system differ from Elecro-winning system?
A. Electro-winning system falls into the category of recovery and recycling of metals.rather than recovery and recycling of water. It is similar to electro-plating operation except that the electrodes are operated at very low current densities. That means are amount of electrodes are necessary and the electrical energy consumption is large. Electro-winning system recovers only specific metals. It leaves out all other impurities in water. The water is not of re-usable quality. Blue Spring PrecipRO system recovers metals and all other impurities from water so that the water can be re-used. The operating cost of electro-winning systems is high because of specialized electrodes required and because of high electrical energy requirements. The equipment cost is also quite high because of rectifier and low-density electrode requirements. There is no positive cash-flow from electro-winning systems unless the recovered metal has high salvage value, like precious metals.
Q. How does Blue Spring PrecipROTM system differ from "closed-loop" evaporation and distillation systems?
A. There are two kinds of "closed-loop" evaporation/distillation systems. In the first type, the rinse water is concentrated by evaporation and it is returned to the plating bath. Vaporization of water may be done with air-blower or heat or combination of the two. These are highly energy-consuming processes as opposed to reverse osmosis concentration. The water vapor is exhausted to air. In other words, it is a closed-loop system with respect to the plating solution. It is not closed loop with respect to water. The water is wasted. The other type of system includes a condenser to recover the water vapor. In this case, the waste water is concentrated and the water is recovered and recycled. Condensation of water vapor may be done by air-cooling or water cooling.
From technical point of view, Blue Spring PrecipRO system behaves similar to the second type of closed-loop evaporation/distillation system. In the Blue Spring PrecipRO system, there is no loss of water to air other than by atmospheric evaporation from the customer's rinse tanks. In the evaporative/distillation systems, even with a condenser, 20% - 50% of water is lost to atmosphere. Evaporation/distillation systems normally do not include waste water treatment. That means the recovered water may require further treatment before it can be re-used. Blue Spring PrecipRO system includes waste water treatment.
From the environmental point of view, the evaporative and distillation systems causes air pollution because of the entrainment of metal-laden waste water in the exhaust fumes. It may require air-quality permit. The system operates under corrosive and hazardous conditions. The PrecipROTM system does not have exhaust requirements and it operates under non-corrosive , non-hazardous conditions.
The equipment cost of evaporation/distillation systems is several times higher than the equipment cost of PrecipRO system of equivalent capacity. The condensation systems are even more expensive. The evaporative/distillation systems are truly energy-guzzlers. The most energy-efficient heating of water is provided by direct-firing method. Even with this efficient mode of energy transfer, a typical evaporation/distillation system consumes 200- 400 times more energy than a PrecipRO system for removal and recovery of the same amount of water. As the result, the operating cost of evaporation/distillation system is 15 - 30 times higher than the operating costs of a PrecipRO system of equivalent capacity.
Usually, it is not practical and it is not affordable to install an evaporative or distillative system for rinse water lines because of the practical limitations on the flow capacity of such equipment. The best application of such systems is for local recycling of plating salts from dragout tanks into the plating tanks.
Q. How does Blue Spring PrecipROTM system differ from conventional RO systems?
A. Conventional RO systems do not separate the contaminants from the waste water. They merely concentrate the contaminants. Blue Spring PrecipROTM actually removes the contaminants from waste water.
Conventional RO systems can recover 50%-70% water at the most, when used in waste water applications. The limitation is placed by the increasing osmotic pressure of the contaminants as their concentration increases. Blue Spring PrecipROTM recovers up to 99.7% water, the practical limit being placed by soluble impurities. The exceptional performance of Blue Spring PrecipROTM systems is because the contaminants are removed continuously.
Q. What are the major benefits of Blue Spring PrecipROTM water recycling system?
A. (1) No waste water discharge permit required in most cases, unless you want to discharge the concentrated liquid waste (2) Water consumption reduced by 90%-99.7% (3) It is the only system that makes it is more economical to recycle water than to discharge it, in most cases (4) The rinse quality is better because of the water purification step included in the PrecipRO system (5) It is not necessary to have multi-tank, counter-current rinse system as means of reducing water consumption. In PrecipRO system, water is not consumed. It is recycled. (6) No waste water analysis fees (7) No discharge quality violations possible since there is no discharge. (8) positive cash-flow compared with regular waste water treatment alternatives. These alternatives invariably show highly negative cash-flow which means a burden on the business (9) Environmentally friendly system compared with ion-exchange based closed-loop water recycling systems. Ion-exchange systems add 2-7 times more TDS to the environment than the TDS removed from recycled water (10) Removes all kinds of impurities from recycled water; not just ions. Ion-exchange systems do not remove particulates, colloidal matter, dissolved organic chemicals, surfactants and other non-ionic impurities. (11) Waste water treatment section is not sensitive to pH controller malfunctioning. Regular waste water treatment systems are highly sensitive to pH control (12) Not sensitive to equipment malfunctioning. In regular waste water treatment systems, equipment malfunction results in environmental disaster and heavy penalties. In PrecipRO system, equipment malfunction means slightly lower rinse water quality which is an internal, production problem which does not affect the environment (13) No hazardous waste is stored inside PrecipRO system. Only collection sumps may contain hazardous waste. Secondary containment is usually not necessary (14) Reduced chemical consumption in comparison with regular waste water treatment systems (15) Membrane life is several times longer than ordinary RO systems used in waste water applications (16) Several times more economical to operate than distillation or evaporation based waste volume reduction systems.