Membrane technology is at the heart of the Poseidon, an innovative sodium extraction system developed for the horticulture industry by Moor Filtertechniek in the Netherlands. The Poseidon, which uses ...
Water quality is an issue of increasing importance in horticulture. Given the operational complexities in this sector, innovative technologies can help overcome the barriers to consistent profitability for the growers of high-value horticultural products. The production of fruits and vegetables is challenging in many places throughout the world. This is not only a matter of the availability of clean water, but also of increasingly strict legislation.
In the Netherlands for example, it is now mandatory for growers to treat their wastewater to certain standards before discharge. The legislation aims to prevent pesticides or, more accurately, plant protection products (PPPs), from ending up in the environment. Since the start of 2018, growers have to use a purification installation that is officially recognized as being effective in removing more than 95 percent of the PPPs. The Poseidon was recently added to the list and is very different from traditional installations, which typically use a combination of UV with either peroxide or ozone.
The Poseidon was developed specially for growers who sluice off water in order to discharge sodium. In circular irrigation systems, the sodium concentration eventually gets too high to allow for healthy crop growth and yields. At that point the water in the drain silo has to be discharged to the sewer. Until recently, growers could do so freely and then add groundwater, rain water, or reverse osmosis (RO) water to the system to lower the sodium concentration. With the help of membranes, the Poseidon extracts sodium while retaining and recirculating many of the nutrients and almost all PPPs in the drainage water. A smart combination of ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and activated carbon is applied to achieve this. The water treatment system can be expanded with RO to reduce the total volume of water to be discharged by 80 percent.
Aquaflex UF membranes
Membrane filtration technology has several advantages over conventional separation technologies in wastewater treatment. These advantages include better permeate quality and increased separation capacity, a smaller footprint and often a much lower need for chemicals. The Aquaflex membrane modules contain hydrophilic hollow-fiber ultrafiltration (UF) membranes, composed of a PES/PVP blend. Their high mechanical strength makes them suitable for a wide range of heavy-duty applications, from producing drinking water to preparing process water and polishing effluent. The Aquaflex membranes use a single-fiber inside-out process to provide a robust and reliable barrier to all suspended solids and colloids. In the Poseidon, this is the important first step that allows nanofiltration membranes to carry out the next step without any fouling problems.
The GreenTech jury granted the Poseidon with the Sustainability Award because it represents a big step towards sustainable horticulture. Clean water is a precious natural resource that is set to rapidly deplete in many parts of the world, while demand is growing quickly. This membrane-based innovation recycles valuable nutrients and irrigation water while preventing PPPs from reaching the groundwater, or having any negative environmental impact. The Poseidon combines significant cost savings with modest operational costs, due to low energy consumption and low maintenance needs.
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