PITTSBURGH—The world water market is now worth nearly $900 billion annually, according to Firuza Mir, president and CEO of Lanxess Sybron Chemicals Inc.
But the projected growth in the need for water makes that market even more crucial in human than in financial terms, Mir said at the International Elastomer Conference in Pittsburgh.
“By 2050, water demand will increase by 55 percent from today,” said Mir, the conference's keynote speaker. “At that time, 884 million people will have no access to clean water, and 2.8 billion will have no access to adequate sanitation.”
The recent example of Hurricane Matthew, with Haiti threatened by a cholera epidemic, underlines the catastrophe that occurs when large populations have no access to clean water, she said.
The world population is growing by 1 percent per year, and developing nations are growing ever more prosperous, according to Mir.
“When people have more income, they want to eat better,” she said. Agriculture will demand more and more water, creating shortages for industry, she said.
In 2010, the United Nations declared access to clean water a basic human right, according to Mir. Lanxess, through the water purification section of its Performance Chemicals business, is endeavoring to ensure there is enough water to go around worldwide, she said.
Lanxess offers four main products for water purification, according to Mir. They are:
- Lewatit ion exchange systems;
- Lewabrane reverse osmosis membranes;
- LewaPlus management software, which Lanxess provides free to customers; and
- Bayoxide iron oxide adsorbers.
These products are famous among water purification experts around the world, according to Mir. “People may not know Lanxess, but they know Lewatit,” she said.
Lanxess water purification products are found everywhere, such as in Brita water filters, according to Mir. But its original liquid purification technology was ion exchange, which began more than 100 years ago under Bayer A.G., from which Lanxess spun off in 2004, she said.
Lewatit has a broad portfolio of products with a wide range of characteristics, but all with good mechanical and chemical stability and excellent kinetic stability, she said.
Lanxess constantly invests in research and development to make Lewatit and other products both more effective and longer-lasting, according to Mir.
“We must have products that have longevity,” she said. “Our object is to come up with products that excite people to use them.”
The newest technology in water purification is Zero Liquid Discharge, which not only saves water but meets new regulatory standards forbidding water discharge from treatment plants, according to Mir.
In ZPD, water goes through layers of filtration and ultra-filtration, including Lewabrane to take care of fine particulates and Lewatit to make the water suitable for industrial use, Mir said. This process purifies 97 percent of the water, and high-pressure reverse osmosis cleanses 99 percent of the remaining 3 percent, she said. The minuscule amount of remaining water goes to an evaporation tank, she said.
ZPD already is being used at a chemical plant in India and a water treatment plant in San Diego, Calif., according to Mir.
California, with its current severe drought, plans to build more ZLD water treatment plants, and countries such as Singapore and Saudi Arabia have expressed interest, she said.