10 Key Benefits of Implementing Zero Liquid Discharge in Your Industry

Zero Liquid Discharge System

Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) is a highly effective water treatment process designed to eliminate liquid waste from a system completely. Its primary objective is to economically reduce wastewater generation while producing clean water suitable for reuse, thereby leading to cost savings and significant environmental benefits. 

Industrial water treatment greatly benefits from ZLD technologies, enabling plants to meet strict government discharge regulations and achieve higher water recovery rates. Additionally, these systems facilitate the treatment and recovery of valuable materials from wastewater streams, including potassium sulfate, caustic soda, sodium sulfate, lithium, and gypsum. 

The purpose of this blog is to provide: 

  • A peek into the key components that play a crucial role in industrial Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems.
  • A comprehensive overview of the benefits of Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems in Industries.

Key components involved in the industrial Zero liquid discharge system

1. Pretreatment Systems

Pretreatment in Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems involves several essential steps. Firstly, large solids are screened out using a bar-equipped device. Coagulation and flocculation follow, where chemicals cause suspended solids to clump together for easier removal. Filtration then separates the coagulated solids by passing the water through a filter. Additionally, specific pollutants may require further chemical treatment to meet discharge standards. These pretreatment stages ensure the wastewater is adequately prepared for advanced purification in the ZLD system, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and achieving water recycling goals.

2. Effluent treatment system

The effluent treatment system in a Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) setup varies depending on wastewater characteristics and the desired level of treatment. Regardless, all ZLD systems require effluent treatment to eliminate dissolved solids from the water. Evaporation, achieved by boiling and condensing steam, is a common and efficient method for ZLD. Crystallization, causing dissolved solids to precipitate as crystals, is another widely used approach often combined with evaporation. Membrane separation, involving filtering dissolved solids through membranes, is a pricier yet effective method for achieving exceptionally high water purity levels. Overall, ZLD systems utilize diverse techniques to restore water and promote responsible water management.

3. Reverse Osmosis (RO) Systems and Ultrafiltration (UF)

Typically In a Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) water recycling facility, contaminant removal from wastewater is accomplished through Reverse Osmosis (RO) and Ultrafiltration (UF) systems. RO employs a semipermeable membrane, driven by pressure, to eliminate up to 99.9% of total dissolved solids (TDS) from water. Meanwhile, UF is a membrane filtration process that employs a hollow-fiber membrane with pore sizes ranging from 0.002 to 0.1 microns, depending on the system, to effectively remove bacteria, some viruses, suspended organic matter, and a small amount of minerals from the wastewater.

4. Evaporation/Crystallization Units

In a Zero liquid discharge wastewater treatment system, Evaporation/Crystallization units are employed to eliminate dissolved solids from the wastewater. The evaporation process targets around 90% water recovery, while crystallization can achieve 100% recovery. The purified water from the evaporation process is recycled within the plant, contributing to sustainable water management.

5. Solid-Liquid Separation Units

These units encompass technologies like centrifugal separation equipment and filter presses to extract solid particles from wastewater. The separated solids can then undergo further dewatering on a filter press, preparing them for landfill disposal.

Benefits of Implementing ZLD Systems in Industries

Adopting Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems in industries provides various benefits, encompassing both environmental and economic aspects. Let’s explore some of the significant advantages of implementing ZLD technology:

1. Reducing the cost of production

Implementing zero liquid discharge processes in industries can reduce the cost of production in several ways. One of the benefits is that lower waste volumes decrease the cost associated with waste management. Recycling water on-site lowers water acquisition costs and associated local risks. In many applications, ZLD can enable the creation of value products or energy from waste, significantly improving project economics. Overall, ZLD can help to align profit and sustainability goals, making businesses more robust and less vulnerable to external factors.

2. Water Conservation

Implementing Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems in industries yields substantial water conservation benefits, particularly crucial in water-scarce or costly regions. By recycling and reusing wastewater, ZLD reduces the environmental impact and reliance on external water sources. Studies show that ZLD can slash water consumption by up to 98%, i.e. only 2 liters are discharged for every 100 liters used in industrial processes. Additionally, Specific applications in various industries, like power, mining, and food and beverage, demonstrate ZLD’s potential to recycle and treat wastewater for alternative purposes, fostering sustainable water management and environmental protection.

3. Reduced Disposal Costs

Reduced disposal costs are a benefit of implementing ZLD systems in industries because they eliminate the need to discharge wastewater to a sewer or other waste disposal site. This can save businesses a significant amount of money, especially in areas where waste disposal costs are high. ZLD systems work by recycling and reusing water that would otherwise be discharged. A study by the Zero Liquid Discharge Alliance found that ZLD systems can reduce disposal costs by up to a whopping 90%. 

4. Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is a significant benefit of implementing Zero liquid discharge systems in industries, as they mitigate the environmental impact of industrial activities. ZLD’s recycling and reusing water reduce pollution, safeguarding ecosystems and human health. By preventing harmful pollutants from entering natural water bodies, ZLD aids in minimizing water and air pollution. Additionally, ZLD systems contribute to conserving land resources and enhancing energy efficiency in industrial processes. Specific examples, such as recycling cooling tower blowdown water in the power industry, recycling wastewater in mining operations, and reusing wastewater in food processing, illustrate ZLD’s positive impact on freshwater preservation and water quality protection.

5. Decrease the Volume of waste

Zero-effluent discharge system systems greatly decrease the waste volume in different industries. For instance, in the power sector, ZLD can recycle cooling tower blowdown water, which is high in salt content, for reuse as boiler feedwater or makeup water for cooling towers. In mining, ZLD allows for the treatment and reuse of wastewater from mining operations, reducing wastewater disposal and lowering pollutant concentrations. Similarly, ZLD systems in the food and beverage industry can recycle wastewater with high organic matter for cleaning and sanitation purposes, minimizing wastewater generation and pollutant concentrations. Source:  Making Waves: Zero Liquid Discharge for Sustainable Industrial Effluent Management https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/13/20/2852

6. Recycling of treated water

Recycling through Zero liquid discharge wastewater treatment plants in industries offers several compelling benefits, notably reducing water consumption by reusing treated water in plant processes. This practice significantly diminishes the demand for freshwater in industrial operations, resulting in lower water acquisition costs and reduced external risks. Moreover, on-site water recycling can lead to fewer treatment requirements compared to meeting stringent environmental discharge standards. Embracing ZLD technology enables industries to optimize water resources, cut operational expenses, and lessen their environmental impact by efficiently recycling water within their processes.

7. Improved Public Image

Implementing ZLD systems in industries improves public image by showcasing the business’s commitment to environmental sustainability. This is essential for attracting and retaining customers and complying with environmental regulations. ZLD’s recycling and reusing of water reduce pollution, which enhances the public’s perception of the business. Several studies* have revealed that ZLD vastly reduces the strain on scanty water resources & minimizes environmental footprint making the business appear environmentally conscious. *https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303872744_The_Global_Rise_of_Zero_Liquid_Discharge_for_Wastewater_Management_Drivers_Technologies_and_Future_Directions Furthermore, ZLD systems contribute to energy efficiency and resource conservation, reinforcing the business’s eco-friendly image. Overall, ZLD positively impacts public perception, making businesses more appealing to customers, investors, and regulatory bodies.

Wipro Water Approach

Wipro Water is a division of Wipro Enterprises Pvt Limited, which has several businesses, including fast-moving consumer goods, lighting, hydraulic cylinders, industrial automation, 3D printing, and aerospace component manufacturing business headquartered in India. As an experienced global industrial wastewater treatment solution provider, Wipro Water has served the industry for 15 years+, providing a wide range of services and solutions to help industries effectively treat and recycle their wastewater. 

Wipro Water provides Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) solutions, which help customers to achieve zero liquid discharge from their water treatment facilities. As a trusted global industrial wastewater treatment solution provider, Wipro Water is committed to providing industries with the best possible solutions to help them effectively treat and recycle their wastewater sustainably and cost-effectively.  Wipro Water’s zero effluent discharge system eliminates liquid waste with advanced water treatment processes, recovering over 95% of liquid waste for reuse and producing a dry, solid cake for disposal. A typical Zero liquid discharge plant by Wipro Water is designed to handle waste contamination and flow variations, allow chemical volume adjustments, and retrieve valuable by-products.