NuWater has worked with the largest aluminium smelter in the southern hemisphere since 2016. The facility located in Richards Bay was struggling during a drought period and needed to find an alternate water supply. As a result, NuWater installed a 2MLD seawater desalination plant for them. On completion of the handover period, the client elected to self-operate the system with the assistance and support of NuWater. Recently, NuWater returned to the site to undertake a complete refurbishment of the system and to undertake management and operations for three years. An additional requirement was to look for possible ways to increase efficiencies in their water-cooling systems.
Keeping Operations Running
The smelter has been operating for around 20 years producing high-quality primary aluminium for domestic and export markets. They receive raw materials mined from around the world in the RCB harbour, whereafter they process these materials and export them globally.
They also have the local arm of the business, manufacturing aluminium in different forms for the local South African market.
Returning to NuWater
In 2020, the facility contacted NuWater as they wanted to undertake a full refurbishment of the water treatment plant. As a result, NuWater secured a 36-month operation and maintenance contract with them, which included refurbishment and updates, and upgrades with newer, more efficient technologies.
During this time, they also enquired about possible ways to increase their cooling system’s efficiency by finding a way to use and dump less water. They suggested treating the cooling water. However, upon further research, NuWater determined that treating the water going into the cooling towers would be the most effective and efficient solution.
As a result, NuWater offered a rental unit on a trial basis as proof of concept. The system has since been installed and is awaiting start-up.
Before NuWater’s solution, the aluminium smelter only used municipal water to top up its cooling systems. However, they were looking for a solution to improve water use as part of their current sustainability drive, allowing them to use less water and reduce their water bill.
The system installed is a containerised Ultra Filtration and Reverse Osmosis system producing 850m3/day. NuWater’s goal was to provide the client with the purest water at the lowest chemical consumption rate with the least operator interaction required.
Lower feed water salinity into the cooling system will increase the number of cycles the water can run through the system by up to seven times. This, in turn, will have a 68% waste decrease and ±20% reduction in water supply requirement.
Holistic Water Solution
NuWater didn’t just quote on the initial request to clean the cooling water but did an in-depth look into the system to see the best holistic solution. This enabled us to offer the best value at the lowest cost while also eliminating consultation and additional design costs of a third party.
Contact NuWater today for all your water treatment solutions.