Usage of Industrial Water in Major Industries


Industries across the world rely on water for various crucial processes, from manufacturing semiconductors to heavy manufacturing and even oil and gas production. 

If you are in one of the industries mentioned above or related industries. This article will help you explore the major applications of industrial water and how industries are addressing their responsibility to manage it effectively.

Before we dive into the usage, let’s understand what industrial water is.

 

What is Industrial Water?

Industrial water refers to water that is used in various industrial processes and activities. It is distinct from residential or municipal water in that it is specifically intended for use within industrial settings. 

Industrial water is a crucial resource for many industries, including manufacturing, energy production, chemical processing, and more. It serves various purposes, such as cooling, heating, cleaning, and as a component in chemical reactions.

Here are some common usage of water in industries:

  1. Cooling: Many industrial processes generate heat, which needs to be dissipated to prevent equipment from overheating. Industrial water is often used as a coolant in these processes.

  2. Steam production: Water is frequently used to generate steam, which is used in a wide range of industrial applications, from power generation to heating and sterilisation.

  3. Cleaning and sanitation: Water is used for cleaning equipment, surfaces, and facilities in industrial settings to maintain hygiene and safety standards.

  4. Process water: Some industrial processes require water as an essential component, such as in chemical manufacturing or food processing.

  5. Dilution and mixing: Water is used to dilute and mix various chemicals and substances in industrial processes.

  6. Boiler feedwater: In facilities that use boilers, high-purity water is needed as feedwater to prevent scale and corrosion, which can damage the equipment.

  7. Wastewater treatment: Many industries generate wastewater that needs to be treated before it can be released into the environment to meet environmental regulations.

The quality and treatment of industrial water can vary significantly depending on the specific requirements of the industrial process. Water may need to be purified, demineralized, or treated to remove impurities or contaminants to ensure it doesn't adversely affect the industrial equipment or final product. Proper management of industrial water is critical to ensure efficient and sustainable industrial operations while minimising environmental impact.

Here is a quick glossary for understanding the water stored for different usages:

  1. Cooling water: Water used to dissipate heat in various industrial processes, such as power generation and manufacturing, to maintain equipment temperatures.

  2. Ultrapure water: Ultra-pure water (EUP) is water that has practically all minerals, dissolved gases, and dirt particles removed, which could otherwise interfere with the creation of precise and sensitive items like circuit boards.

  3. Production water, Process water, and Manufacturing water: These terms typically refer to water utilized in industrial settings, with "production water" being a broad category, "process water" involved in specific manufacturing steps, and "manufacturing water" relating to water used within manufacturing facilities.

  4. Cleaning and sanitation water: Water employed in cleaning and disinfecting processes to maintain hygiene and remove contaminants from surfaces and equipment, vital in various industries including food processing and healthcare.

Industrial Water Usage in Different Industries

This is a brief overview of industrial water needs in the main industries where needs have been increasing in recent years, and examples of applications in each industry.

1. Ultrapure Water Usage in Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry

Semi-conductor mother board representing semi-conductor industry

Semiconductors and chips are integral components of everyday life, powering computers, cell phones, and automobiles. The manufacturing of semiconductors heavily relies on water, particularly ultrapure water. This highly purified form of water is vital for removing impurities during the semiconductor production process.

One notable case study in this regard is Intel, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer. Intel has invested in water-reuse development projects to reduce its water consumption and environmental impact. By recycling and reusing water, they are not only saving resources but also minimising the environmental footprint of their operations.

2. Cooling Water Usage in Heavy Manufacturing Industry

Huge water storage tank for heavy manufacturing equipment.

In heavy manufacturing, cooling systems play a critical role in dissipating heat from various processes and equipment. These systems transfer heat from one medium to another, typically involving water as the process fluid. The driving force behind this heat transfer is the temperature difference between the two mediums, often ranging from 10 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water temperature affects the properties of water, as well as the behaviour of contaminants it may contain. Consequently, water temperature has a significant impact on the potential for system corrosion, scaling, and microbiological growth. Effective cooling water management is essential to maintain the efficiency and longevity of industrial equipment.

 

3. Production Water Usage in Oil and Gas Production Industry

 

Oil and gas production industry using water storage tanks

The oil and gas industry, while representing less than 5% of total water withdrawal globally, plays a vital role in safeguarding water quality in the regions where it operates. Water is not only a resource but also a raw material extensively used and produced throughout the industry's value chain, from extraction activities to refineries and petrochemical facilities.

The major applications of water in the oil and gas sector include injection water, production water, process water, wastewater, rainwater, cooling water, and tank cleaning water. Ensuring the responsible and sustainable management of water resources is crucial for the long-term viability of the oil and gas industry.

 

4. Process Water Usage in Pulp and Paper Mills Industry

 

Paper Machine in Paper and Pulp Factory

Despite the rise of digital media and decreased use of printed products, pulp and paper mills continue to be significant consumers of industrial process water globally. Water is extensively used in the three stages of paper production: pulp making, pulp processing, and paper/paperboard manufacturing. These stages involve activities such as cooking, bleaching, and washing, all of which require substantial water use.

A substantial portion of the water consumed in the pulp and paper industry is used exclusively for processing, resulting in the generation of large volumes of contaminated wastewater. This wastewater must be treated and managed effectively to prevent environmental harm.

 

5. Manufacturing and Cleaning Water Usage in Pharmaceutical Industry

Biologist in a pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on water for various critical processes including drug manufacturing, cleaning, and quality control. The usage of water is done for the following processes: 

Manufacturing:

  • Raw materials are sourced from natural deposits, often requiring payment for water rights.
  • Water is used for material extraction and processing into a finished product.
  • Additional water may be needed for dilution to meet regulatory specifications.

Formulation:

  • Involves mixing different chemicals to achieve a desired result, e.g., creating a new antibiotic.
  • Chemical formula is tested over time to ensure effectiveness before market readiness.

Packaging:

  • Final product is packaged into bottles, sachets, etc.
  • Involves filling containers with the correct dosage and adding preservatives and additives.

Quality and purity are of utmost importance to ensure the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products. Therefore, they use stainless steel water storage tanks for purity, durability, ease of maintenance, regulatory compliance, quality control, and resistance to chemicals, ensuring the integrity and safety of their products.

Read more about the water needs of pharmaceutical industry

Why is the usage of high-quality industrial water important in India?

With the growth of manufacturing in India, there is a growing demand for high-quality, consistent industrial water supply.

Mainly because high-quality industrial water is essential for equipment efficiency, product quality, energy efficiency, environmental compliance, cost savings, safety, sustainability, operational reliability, and overall industry reputation. It helps to ensure the long-term success and safe functioning of industrial facilities.

The following provide more specific information on each of these factors:

1. Equipment Effectiveness

High-quality water contributes to the efficiency and lifetime of industrial equipment. Water impurities and pollutants can cause scale formation, corrosion, and fouling in equipment such as boilers, cooling systems, and heat exchangers. This can degrade their efficiency, raise maintenance costs, and eventually lead to equipment failure.

2. Product Quality 

In industries where water is a component in the manufacturing process, the quality of the water utilised can have a significant impact on the end product. Water impurities can introduce flaws or impurities into items, lowering their quality and marketability..

3. Energy Efficiency

In industrial facilities, water is frequently used for cooling and heating processes. High-quality water allows these systems to run more efficiently, lowering energy usage and expenses.

4. Environmental Compliance

Many industrial facilities are subject to environmental regulations that limit the discharge of wastewater or pollutants into the environment. Using high-quality water can reduce the need for substantial wastewater treatment, helping industries meet these regulations more easily.

5. Cost Savings

Maintaining high-quality industrial water can lead to cost savings in the long run. Operational costs are reduced when equipment performs efficiently and requires less maintenance. Additionally, water recycling and reuse can reduce the need for continually sourcing fresh water, lowering water supply costs.

6. Safety

High-quality industrial water is critical for ensuring the safety of workers and the community. Contaminated water can endanger employees' health and safety, especially in sectors where water is used in close contact with products or in processes that emit toxic compounds.

7. Sustainability

Conserving water and ensuring its high quality is important for long-term sustainability. Water is a limited resource, and reducing water waste and pollution helps protect the environment and preserve this essential resource for future generations.

8. Reliability in Operations

High-quality industrial water contributes to the overall reliability of industrial processes. Consistent and reliable water quality reduces the likelihood of unexpected downtime or interruptions in production.

9. Reputation and Adherence

Ensuring high-quality industrial water is vital for maintaining a company's reputation and complying with industry standards. Meeting quality standards on a consistent basis displays a commitment to quality and environmental responsibility.

Conclusion

Industrial water is a crucial resource for a wide range of industries, from semiconductor manufacturing to heavy manufacturing, oil and gas production, and pulp and paper mills. 

As these industries continue to grow and evolve, it has become important not only for water quality plants to have a stable supply and efficiency, but also to be environmentally responsible.

Hence, choosing the right water storage tank based on the water usage in your industry is an important aspect. 

For more information on industrial water tank types, check out https://www.beltecno-global.com/blog/different-types-of-industrial-water-storage-tanks 

 

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