LET’S START WITH THE BASICS: WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT INDUSTRIAL WASTE WATER TREATMENT?
Many chemical and pharmaceutical processes concern what are known as active ingredients. One example: Some customers at GETEC PARK.SWISS produce fungicides. These products contain substances that protect plants from fungal infestation by inhibiting the growth of the fungi. When cleaning production equipment, residues of these active ingredients get into the waste water system. They can cause damage if they are discharged to the environment uncontrolled. In order to prevent this, we must treat the water before discharging it into the Rhine so that it is entirely harmless to the environment. In this connection, the authorities apply stringent threshold values. Our goal is to use the best process possible so that we can always comply with these threshold values and ensure maximum levels of environmental protection.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “BEST PROCESS POSSIBLE”?
The treatment of industrial waste water is considerably more complex than the treatment of communal waste water. For example, industrial waste water may contain molecules that have been designed specifically to be immune to bacteria. However, because bacteria play an important role in waste water treatment, we first have to split these substances so that they can be recognized and broken down by the bacteria. We use various industrial pretreatment processes to achieve this. It would be a relatively simple matter if we were dealing with just one type of waste water. However, we have 19 different types of waste water at GETEC PARK.SWISS. Until now, we have managed using a chemical pretreatment process and a high level of material inputs. The new CALLISTA plant means that, in the future, we will be able to treat waste water in a more targeted manner, using fewer raw materials and less energy as a result.
IN OTHER WORDS, CALLISTA MAKES WASTE WATER TREATMENT MORE SUSTAINABLE?
Yes. The process is more environmentally friendly and more economical because we can reduce the consumption of energy and chemicals substantially. By analyzing the waste water in the production plant where it occurs, we can route it directly to the optimal process module (see graphic). Specifically this means fewer chemicals, lower energy consumption and shorter transport routes. Ozone treatment is a good example. For the current process, we have to purchase, transport and store hydrogen peroxide and iron sulfate. By contrast, CALLISTA will use oxygen and electricity, both of which we produce on-site as needed. That is a sustainable improvement. A further advantage is its flexibility. It is easier to scale up to meet customers’ needs. The waste water goes through one or more process steps depending on how contaminated it is. In this way, we and our customers can work together to optimize processes sustainably.
HOW DOES THE PLANT FIT THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CONCEPT?
CALLISTA will contribute to the avoidance and reuse of waste at GETEC PARK.SWISS. This is illustrated very well by the new anaerobic process step, which produces methane. We use this biogas as a fuel to generate carbon-neutral green steam, which our customers then utilize as a source of heat for their chemical processes. In addition, we use the heat from the waste water together with solar energy in heat pumps to produce thermal energy for the industrial park.
WHEN WILL THE PROJECT BE IMPLEMENTED?
A pilot plant is scheduled for completion by the start of 2024 and will then be tested. The construction of the full-scale plant can start following an approval phase conducted in close collaboration with the building and environmental protection authorities. This is to be concluded by 2027. Once the necessary testing has been completed successfully and the official permits issued, we will be able to start waste water treatment.