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Dow Water & Process Solutions: Camp de Tarragona DEMOWARE Municipal Wastewater Reuse Project

An effective solution identified by using multiple industries that complement each other. This was a good project that eliminated the need for pretreating water for industrial use. It also enabled the reuse of water in a carbon cracker operation in a water-stressed area of Spain.

Dow Chemical Company’s Dow Water & Process Solutions is participating in one of 10 European Union-funded projects that aims to stimulate innovation and improve cohesion in Europe’s water reuse sector. Situated in a water-stressed region of Spain, the Camp Tarragona petrochemical complex and surrounding municipalities face competing water demands across the agricultural, industrial, and residential markets. The DEMOWARE project seeks to demonstrate how water stress in a European region can be mitigated by fostering industrial water reuse.

With the help of advanced water treatment technologies, the Camp de Tarragona Advanced Water Reclamation Plant onsite treats wastewater from the Spanish cities of Salou, Tarragona, and Vilaseca for reuse in the complex’s industrial operations, which ultimately reduces strain on limited, local freshwater resources.

The Camp Tarragona petrochemical complex handles 19,000 cubic meters per hour, and previously used freshwater from the Ebro River Basin to power its industrial processes. The water reclamation plant, operated by Veolia and the government-owned water supplier AITASA, now makes it possible to reclaim and reuse municipal wastewater in operations. Dow Filmtec Reverse Osmosis Elements help treat the wastewater. Once it has the required quality, the wastewater is fed through a pipeline to various plants within the complex for alternative industrial use.

The reclamation plant uses Veolia’s technology as a pre-treatment. Dow Filmtec BW30XFR-400/34i extra fouling resistant membranes are used in the system’s first pass, and Dow Filmtec LE-440i low-energy membranes are used in the second pass. The extra fouling resistance membranes increase equipment lifetime and reduce operational expenses. The low-energy membranes produce a high-quality final product water at 33% lower pressure, which reduces energy demand, according to Dow.

Dow Water & Process Solutions’ goal was to develop a system to treat wastewater with high-enough quality to be used in cooling tower operations. Thanks to the project, the ethylene cracker cooling tower uses up to 40% reclaimed water and has reduced chemical usage by 23%. Depending on the season, this frees up more than 200 cubic meters per hour of water rights for the municipality. Wastewater generated by the cooling towers has been reduced up to 49%. The final target is to serve 90% of the complex’s water demand with reclaimed water.

Growth in Tarragona has resulted in competition for freshwater resources from the Ebro River Basin, an area protected by the UNESCO. By reclaiming municipal wastewater for industrial purposes, the complex is able to minimize water stress and preserve freshwater to meet municipal, tourism, and agricultural demands. This project is a milestone in the improvement of European industrial sector efficiency and municipal processes, Dow Water & Process Solutions says.