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GE innovations marry water, energy conservation agendas

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The company is touting the conservation possibilities of its large-scale desalination system and new water treatment technology for bottling plants.

General Electric has water on the brain.

The company's GE Water & Process Technologies unit has introduced an Integrated Pump and Energy Recovery (IPER) system that addresses the often conflicting themes of energy efficiency and water treatment with an integrated system that can process approximately 260,000 gallons of water daily using 10 percent less energy.

Largescale Desalination Needs Targeted

"IPER is designed to offer customers reliable uptime for their packaged desalination water treatment plants while reducing their energy costs in a significant and quantifiable way," said Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO of water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.

IPER helps reduce the energy required for pumping water by up 10 percent by using positive displacement (PD) pumps that use hydraulics instead of crankshafts to get their job done. The hydraulic drive controls double acting pistons. The net effect: the system works at slower process speeds than traditional PD pumps, allowing for large desalination plants to process water using less energy.

Water and Sewerage Corp. in Tarpum Bay, Bahamas, has installed a test unit that GE will use to gather additional information about its energy efficiency and reliability.

Less Water Waste in the Bottling Process

GE also is wrapping up its tests of AquaSel, a new non-thermal brine concentrator (NTBC) technology targeted at "water-intensive" food and beverage companies that could help recover about 25 percent of the water that is usually lost during processing.

AquaSel will enable bottling companies to recover almost all of the water used in their treatment rooms, compared with the 75 percent to 85 percent that is typically recovered, according to GE.

"GE's NTBC technology can turn billions of gallons of lost water into clean, usable water by virtually eliminating the wastewater streams in a variety of industrial and municipal treatment processes," Markhoff said.

The technology is also less energy-intensive, because it can remove impurities at room temperature. The system used for the test was capable of processing up to 36,000 gallons per day. Over 1,000 hours of operation, GE reports that the bottling company was able to save up to 1.5 million gallons of water that would otherwise have been considered as a waste stream.

GE believes that if major bottles switched to its technology, up to 30 million gallons of water per day could be saved by the bottling industry.

Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure