"Automated wastewater treatment systems make plants more efficient"

  • Interviews
  • Sep 30,22
Since its inception in 1964, Ion Exchange (India) Ltd has been pioneering new concepts and product innovations to meet the requirements for total water and environment management of various sectors.

Since its inception in 1964, Ion Exchange (India) Ltd has been pioneering new concepts and product innovations to meet the requirements for total water and environment management of various sectors. Ajay Popat, President, Ion Exchange (India) Ltd, has spearheaded several initiatives in developing and successfully commercialising advanced & sustainable technologies for purification & separation in water, wastewater treatment and more recently in areas of renewable energy. Associated with Ion Exchange since 1994, he has more than 40 years of experience in strategy, business & organisation development with leading companies. Ajay Popat has been promoting the cause of water industry through active participation in industry bodies like CII, FICCI, Indian Environmental Association, Water Quality Association – India Task Force, Process Plant and Machinery Association of India (PPMAI), etc. In this interaction with Rakesh Rao, Ajay Popat emphasises on the importance of right processes for treating waste and innovative solutions offered by Ion Exchange for wastewater treatment.

How is Ion Exchange serving the requirements for wastewater treatment for key end-use industries?
Ion Exchange offers the widest range of products, processes and solutions for wastewater treatment. This includes standardised and customised solutions for treating waste generated by industries, homes and communities with emphasis on resource recoveries.

Apart from municipal and institutions, our advanced waste treatment recycle solutions and Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technologies have been successfully applied by all industries. Thus, we have created impressive references of more than 200 for wastewater treatment and recycling systems and 25 plus for complete Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems across all segments of industries (heavy, medium and light) in India and abroad.

What are the factors driving the demand for wastewater treatment solutions?
Rapid industrialisation, expanding manufacturing industries, urbanisation, growing population and stringent regulatory requirements are major drivers of wastewater treatment solutions. In addition, corporates see sustainability and water crisis as a major global risk in the coming decade, hence driving investment in sustainable wastewater treatment processes.

What are the key challenges before manufacturers (i.e. your customers) today with respect to handling wastewater and adopting sustainable practices? How is Ion Exchange India helping them to solve some of these challenges?
One of the major challenges faced by our customers is “awareness”. This includes awareness of quality of waste, the right treatment process and also the philosophy driving investment in order to improve sustainability as they go about conducting their business. Ion Exchange, through its comprehensive information dissemination and education initiatives, not only with its customers and prospects but also influencers like consultants, etc, ensures sufficient awareness is created on the right process treatment, innovative product technologies and importance of comprehensive operation and maintenance in order to ensure that customers make the right informed decision. This practice is followed for both, for retrofitting existing waste treatment facilities to improve its performance or while investing in new greenfield projects.

Could you please highlight some of your innovations (new products/ solutions) for wastewater treatment? How have these innovations changed the market dynamics?
Since the very inception of our company in 1964, we have pioneered new concepts and product innovations to meet our customers’ requirements for total water and environment management.

Beginning with manufacture of world-class ion exchange resins way back in 1964 to indigenous production of membranes (UF, RO, nano-filtration), we have often exceeded our customer expectations on innovative products and concepts. Some of our innovations related to wastewater treatment include oil coalescer resin and systems to recover process condensates, INDION ORC to substitute activated carbon, widest range of ion exchange resins and adsorbents to remove/trace heavy metals, large organics and colour-causing compounds from waste streams. Our other innovations include advanced electro and photo chemical oxidation technologies to treat recalcitrant organics, oil concentration recovery systems using membranes and the widest range of evaporators (thermal and vacuum), very exciting novel low pressure membrane systems to enhance recovery and make the ZLD concept more affordable.

Many of our innovative biological treatment solutions result in nutrient removal, significantly reduced footprint/chemical use/energy requirements, thereby providing the lowest life cycle cost for investment in waste treatment facilities.

Our recent successful foray in recovering resources while converting waste-to-energy and a range of air treatment technologies to treat odour, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and biogas, complement our entire range of sustainable waste treatment solutions backed by 24 x 7 services.

Are you seeing a rising need to incorporate automation/digitalization features in wastewater treatment system? Could you share your company’s example in this regard?
Automated wastewater treatment systems are poised to make plants more efficient than ever before. In the recent past, implementation of remote monitoring plants has helped provide real time data for efficient operation, monitoring, troubleshooting as well as for maintenance of the wastewater treatment plants. This helps save down time and optimises the operating cost. Digital transformation in the wastewater management sector has grown at a faster pace where focus is more on having real time data and actionable information based on automation of the equipment. Valuable manpower resources are optimised due to automation in this sector apart from the benefits mentioned above.

What are some of the emerging trends in the wastewater treatment sector at present?
The emerging trends in waste management generally include resource-recovery while treating waste, at the same time deploying technologies that have lowest carbon footprint, chemicals and energy usage in order to exceed the quality of effluent treatment as well as statutory/regulatory requirements.

What are your growth plans for wastewater treatment business?
Ion Exchange always emphasizes on research and development, new technology and innovation adaption through partnerships with international companies and academic institutes. In addition to the widest range of products and services that we offer, we will continue our investment to develop better and more physico-chemical, biological membranes and thermal evaporation processes, all backed by investment in digital technology and green chemistries.

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