How to get the best results from your laboratory water purification system
In scientific applications, pure water used in laboratories must pass through various technologies in order to remove impurities. Depending on the application requirements, the type of water purification system will vary, so a range of laboratory water purification equipment is available.
Whatever the specific system, good working practices are essential to ensure that laboratory water purification equipment runs efficiently and at peak performance. With waste-reduction of water currently a significant issue, we’ve identified some key measures you can take to ensure your laboratory water purification systems run efficiently with minimum waste.
Rinsing water purification cartridges
Water purification cartridges should be rinsed thoroughly before initial use to remove preservatives for long-term storage added during manufacturing. This is particularly the case in reverse-osmosis (RO) cartridges.
The rinsing of purification cartridges reduces total organic carbons (TOC) and increases resistivity.
Making the cartridge more effective in this way is certainly beneficial: it prolongs the life of the cartridge, making it more cost-effective.
When looking for cartridges, it’s worth identifying those that only require changing based on the amount of water that has been used. This means that the cartridge is fully utilised.
Storage of purified water
Pure water absorbs impurities over time, and it should be remembered that water storage tanks may leach organic or ionic compounds.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) should be used to store Type 2 water prior to polishing, and it has the added benefit of being recyclable.
If the storage tank has a smooth and crevice-free interior then it’ll have 100 percent draining capacity; a conical base allows total removal of contents when cleaning. This makes sanitisation simple, meaning that less waste water is flushed away to the drain.
Monitoring water quality
The water quality used in the sample and solution preparation stage is as important as other reagents. Monitoring water quality continuously is essential to ensure that results are accurate and repeatable: measuring both resistivity and TOC ensures all impurities are accounted for. Since the level of TOC content does not affect the resistivity of the water, some water purification equipment does not monitor TOC content, which may therefore have an undesired effect on experiments.
Further energy efficiency benefits are gained by some innovative water purification systems, which are able to measure the conductivity during the final purification stages. Any water which does not meet the required standard can be recycled back around the system rather than flushed away to the drain.
Ultrapure, 18.2 MΩ-cm, water is an excellent solvent, and will try and bind with whatever it comes into contact with. This includes its storage container, so these should be made from inert material.
For best results:
- Use only freshly produced ultrapure water
- Do not store ultrapure water, as it rapidly reduces in quality due to binding with CO2, which forms carbonic acid.
Flushing the system
Over time, bacteria will grow and air will penetrate a laboratory water purification system. Keep this to a minimum by changing the hydrophobic air filter regularly and sanitising the system annually.
Remember that minimising your sanitisations means less waste water!
Energy saving features
A number of water purification systems available today offer all-important energy saving features, which not only benefit the environment, but also make your processes more efficient.
As mentioned above, innovative water purification systems recycle some of the water if it does not reach the required conductivity measurement, instead of wasting it by sending it to the drain. The variety in efficiency among different systems is significant - some produce only 14 percent pure water, whilst others can produce up to 70% pure water.
Some systems run on variable speed motors, which have an energy-saving ‘sleep’ mode when not in use. Additionally, variable speed motors mean that they only use the amount of energy required. Even when in full use, the energy consumption of the best laboratory water purification systems is the equivalent of running a domestic lightbulb.
Not only does this make your laboratory a quieter working environment, it cuts running costs, preserves natural resources and reduces pollution.
Dr. Matthew Mayhew is a Pure Water Specialist at Triple Red
Read the March 2017 edition of Energy Digital magazine
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere