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Future of Water 2020

Technology holds the key; collaboration opens the door

Credit: PuPont

HP Nanda

Global VP and General Manager, DuPont Water Solutions

Pushing advanced water treatment solutions to new frontiers and uniting global resources with local partnerships, we can solve water scarcity challenges together.

It’s often true that technological advancement has helped us to solve society’s greatest challenges. That’s true for water, too.

Given the complexity of our societies, the local nature of water issues and how water touches every aspect of our lives, uniting others to rise to these challenges is not always easy.

Sustainability Development Goal #6 calls to: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Resource #1, but often in the shadows

Water is fascinating, worthy and, quite simply, resource #1. With it, possibility flows, but not everyone appreciates that.

A recent documentary, completed by Brave Blue World Foundation, aimed to shift thinking around solving water challenges globally and inspire greater urgency, as well as optimism.

The documentary, supported by us, shows the people behind the scenes of the water industry – eliminating waste; working to circular, rather than linear water usage; valuing used water; re-using it – even making beer from it – and creating bio-refineries from wastewater treatment plants to harvest all the nutrients, metals and energy that are otherwise flushed away.

Science is global, solutions are local

Solutions to water issues are usually local and most effective when they are customised to solve local challenges.

To do so, we must try to better understand these challenges by engaging the community through our local presence and tapping into innovation and experience from our substantial global network of scientists, researchers, employees and fellow collaborators.

Water is fascinating, worthy and, quite simply, resource #1. With it, possibility flows, but not everyone appreciates that.

Recently, in Uzbekistan, we helped a nitric acid plant reuse most of its process water. In Nairobi, the Little Sisters of St Francis have an autonomous water supply for their hospital and community that avoids the health issues from over-fluoridated groundwater. We also upgraded the Sanibel and Captiva island community’s cherished membrane plant to expand its capacity for tourism spikes.

Key to the success of projects like these come from deep technical expertise – deep understanding of science and focusing on boundary-pushing innovation programmes; persistence and commitment to work for years to solve technical challenges; and cultivating a ‘can do’ culture. Such solutions take resources, time and incessant curiosity.

The jewel in the deep tech crown is the Tarragona R&D facility in Spain. It’s unique in that we use the natural environment to replicate the challenges that our customers face on a daily basis, with source water from the municipality, the sea and industry.

The DuPont Global Water Technology Development Center in Tarragona tests technologies under extreme full-scale conditions.

Advancing our aspiration with strategic acquisitions

We recognise that we need more tools in our technology tool kit to solve evolving water challenges globally.

In 2019 we made four important acquisitions in water purification, conservation and re-use:

  • Complementary ultrafiltration (UF) technology, which enhances performance for many water streams including pre-treatment for desalination.
  • Membrane bioreactors and submerged UF to, among other things, enhance wastewater reuse.
  • Closed-circuit reverse osmosis, which can enhance water recovery to as high as 95-97%.
  • Advanced membrane aerated biofilm reactors (MABR), which can take secondary wastewater treatment to the next level with energy savings and smaller footprint.

These are complimented by a host of market-leading technologies.

We recognise the challenges in the world are so big, no one individual, organisation or country can solve them. Only through collaborating with others, challenging traditional boundaries in the supply chain and creating lasting impactful solutions that harness the great potential of technology, will we open the door to the possibilities that flow when water is abundant yet precious.

I am an optimist; we can see that day.

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