More than two billion people get their drinking water form water tables. Every year, almost 1,000 km3 are drawn from them worldwide. Combined with the over-exploitation of certain water tables, our world is demanding the development of new solutions to control and recharge underground water reserves.
With geofiltration, SUEZ has developed a perfectly environmentally-friendly water filtration process for artificial aquifer recharging that does not require any chemicals.
How we fight water shortages
The town of les Palmiers in the south of France is regularly plagued by droughts and a sharp rise in demand for drinking water during the holiday season. The town’s water tables have been over-exploited and the volume of fresh water continues to decline, even dropping below sea level at times. As a consequence, salt water levels increase, mixing with the fresh water. The solution: prevent these intrusions by taking water from the Jean Natte canal in the winter, when the level of the water is high, and re-injecting it into the water table when the water level is low. Artificial recharge restores the level of the water table and avoids intrusions, keeping the water suitable all year round.
Geofiltration: an ecological purification process
SUEZ has developed an ecological geofiltration water filtration process without requiring any chemicals. Its application in the Gallardon Lake in France is one remarkable example. Water is taken from the River Seine’s alluvial groundwater, it’s then oxygenated and pumped into the lake. And it naturally moves from the lake to the water table. The transfer from an oxygenated medium to an oxygen-poor medium naturally purifies the water by eliminating almost all the harmful elements, like iron, manganese, ammonia and nitrates.
SUEZ tests and develops alternative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of desalination, to protect and sustainably manage the limited water resources, particularly in the Middle East.
Retaining 99.9% of the salt in seawater
Reverse osmosis is a leading-edge technology chosen by SUEZ retaining more than 99.9% of the salt dissolved in water, using pressure effects. This result is achieved by using a membrane filter that retains salt molecules, whilst letting water molecules flow through. The fresh water is collected and then undergoes numerous tests before being distributed, while the salt is diluted, before being returned to the marine ecosystem.
Inventing new seawater desalination technologies
In Masdar (Abu Dhabi), SUEZ has built a seawater desalination pilot plant that is particularly innovative and ambitious in terms of energy and environmental performance.
For Masdar, the stakes are high because the new city is at the heart of a region facing strong population growth and sustained economic development even though its water resources are limited. It has also set itself the ambition of eventually becoming a positive energy territory.
To meet these challenges, SUEZ has been working on two areas:
By contributing to this project, SUEZ's objective is to develop sustainable solutions for access to water, both in this arid region and in the rest of the world, in line with its desire to offer global solutions for the sustainable and intelligent management of the planet's natural capital.
With this research contract, SUEZ also wishes to consolidate its world leadership in seawater desalination by reverse osmosis. To date, the Group has built more than 260 plants equipped with this solution.
SUEZ is actively working with its various partners on the definition of new management processes for industrial water, along the lines of the E4Water project. This European consortium, which brings together 19 partners from the chemical industry, specialists in water treatment, research centers and universities, were created to look into applicable environmental solutions.
Through the E4Water project, SUEZ is working to find concrete environmental solutions for industrial clients to reduce their water use and energy consumption.
Reducing the global impact on the environment
E4Water’s ambition is to develop and test new integrated approaches, methodologies and processes that improve the management of industrial water, particularly by recycling wastewater. The goal for industry is to cut water consumption by 20% to 40%, aqueous discharges by 30% to 70%, energy consumption by 15% to 40% and the associated costs by up to 60%.
Defining new industrial processes
SUEZ is working with a consortium in specific projects that bring together two of its industrial customers: Total Refining & Chemicals and Procter & Gamble. Robust industrial and control processes are widely recommended and deployed by certain manufacturers, who are most affected by water stress.
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