Our planet runs on water and so do many industrial processes. However, clean fresh water is often not available where and when humans need it and in many parts of the world it is a scarce commodity. So reducing the water footprint, for instance through re-using process water, is an important issue in industrial water use. On the other hand, the industrial processing of water is accompanied by rather abundant energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions, in particular when it comes to drying. All kinds of products and processes require drying, varying from vegetables and dairy products to paper. A maybe even greater challenge in water processing is reducing the emission of substances that may be harmful to the environment, as well as the recovery and reuse of valuable components from water.
Drying and dewatering
At the Institute of Sustainable Process Technology, we address these issues in collaborative projects with academia and industry. Reducing the energy use of Drying and Dewatering processes is central to the ISPT cluster of the same name. It explores, for instance, the possibilities for residual heat usage and the application of heat pumps. At the same time, there is a strong focus on the implementation of drying technologies that can reduce energy use. Fluidised bed drying, microwave drying, vacuum drum drying and refractance window drying are just a few of the options. The cluster has a strong focus on realizing cost-effective R&D and ensuring the effective and rapid transfer of technology from the laboratory to industrial practice. This includes a close partnership with the Dutch working society on drying NWGD (Nederlandse Werkgroep Drogen), to realise the joint ambition of innovation in the area of drying technology in the Netherlands.
At the ISPT cluster of Industrial Fluids Processing, water processing is among the subjects studied, with a focus on improving efficiency, reducing the water footprint, and optimising resource recovery from watery process streams. This fits within the cluster’s mission to accelerate collaborative development of radically innovative technologies for the separation and treatment of fluids. Among the technologies developed here are, for instance, various membrane separation technologies, freeze crystallization and vapor recompression. These can help reduce energy usage, enable a shift towards the use of renewable electricity, and can provide a cost-effective means to establish water circularity.