Mumbai: Faced with fresh water crisis, some of the major industries located on sea coast are using Israel’s water desalination technology in their plants to meet their requirements.
“Being located near sea shore, some of the major oil refineries, fertiliser plants and power companies opted for Israel’s water desalination technology for fresh water needs,” Technochem Agencies (Bombay) Pvt Ltd director Sriram Kulkarni told PTI.
“Since 1994, Israeli company IDE Technologies Ltd has installed 20 thermal desalination plants in five major companies costing $400 million. Together they provide 200 million litres of water per day (MLD),” he said.
Technochem is the sole distributor of IDE in India, catering to oil refineries of Reliance Petroleum Ltd and Essar Essar Oil Ltd at Jamnagar, cement manufacturer Sanghi Industries Ltd in Kutch, EID Parry Fertilizer near Chennai and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) in Kanyakumari.
“Reliance has installed the maximum number of plants at Jamnagar, nine of them. It is also world’s largest desalination installation. Two more are coming up at their Kakinada gas project in Andhra Pradesh. Two each exist in Essar and Sanghi, four in NPCIL, one in EID Parry,” he said.
Tata Group has set up an Israeli desalination plant at Kudankulam, the nuclear plant site near Kanyakumari.
“The technology has proved itself by transforming Israel from a desert region to a nation flourishing with agriculture exports,” Kulkarni said.
The companies using this technology are also supplying the unused recycled water to adjacent townships and villages as part of their corporate social responsibility programme, company sources said.
On the other hand the government authorities consider this technology as expensive and cumbersome.
“Setting up a large desalination plant needs an adequate space, there are environment obligations and most importantly, it is expensive. It costs Rs40 a metre cube (one metre cube is 1,000 litres) and also needs power,” A Sekhar, member, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, said.
He said a 100-MLD plant is coming up near Chennai on BOOT (build-operate-own-transfer basis). But it is viable when the usage is restricted to cooking and drinking.
“So it’s being added with other supply sources to augment water supply. It is safe to consume desalinated water. Sea water consists of 25,000 part per million salt particles. It is brought down to 500 after desalination. Tap water consists 200 salt particles. So it is potable,” Sekhar said.
Kulkarni, however, rejected views of desalinated water being expensive, saying it was a viable option.
“One litre of bottled water costs Rs10. One cubic metre or 1,000 litres would cost Rs10,000. We are producing at Rs40 a cubic metre or four paise a litre. Chennai gets fresh water at Rs55-60 per cubic metre,” he said.
“For saving power, desalination plants should be set up along with upcoming mega power projects,” Kulkarni suggested.
Around 65% energy is lost generating power from coal. This can be used in desalination plants as thermal desalination requires waste steam generated from boilers, as installed in thermal power plants, he said.