“Decentralised, packaged recycle plants and ZLD are in demand”
Thermax’s systems, products and services help industry achieve better resource productivity, and improve bottom lines while maintaining a clean environment. It’s portfolio includes products for heating, cooling, water and waste management and specialty chemicals. Thermax designs, builds and commissions large boilers for steam and power generation, turnkey power plants, industrial. Thermax provide solutions for municipal wastewater treatment plants, waste heat recovery systems and air pollution control projects. Through its water and waste management solutions, the company supports industries and civic bodies to reduce pollution, recycle resources and to generate revenue from waste. Also on offer are value added services for retrofits and rebuilds, design and implementation of optimal energy use in processes, and for managing utilities. An established player in captive power plants, Thermax also builds utility power plants. It is one of the few Indian companies that has sourced supercritical technology to build boilers for mega power plants. Thermax also harnesses solar energy to support its clients in their heating, cooling and power generation requirements.
To begin with, we would like to know about your journey in the water industry and your association with Thermax
I have been associated with Thermax for the past 30 years now. I have worked in the Energy as well as the Environment Businesses of Thermax. I started my journey in Thermax with the Energy business, graduating in handling boilers, heaters and absorption chillers, and later moved to the Environment Business, managing the water and wastewater solutions business for the past 4 years now. Most of my years have been spent in the Energy business, and water being an integral part of heating & cooling equipment, so, in a sense, my association with water business started during the early days in Thermax. I have handled both the front end as well as the back end operations of the business during this journey, and it has been a wonderful and satisfying experience, which I enjoyed all through.
How has the water industry grown over the years?
In the mid-1980s, there was little knowledge and nearly no enforcement of effluent/ sewage standards. The transformation was prompted by many actors. The region’s farmers stood behind the initial push, along with the Pollution Control Board and the court system. However, the pressure to change behaviour at a large scale came from the High Court in incremental steps in 2011 for Zero Liquid Discharge or ZLDs. The industry has grown from adapting effluent treatment plants (ETPs), to ETP Recycle and now adapting zero liquid discharge with multi-effect evaporators (MEE) and mechanical vapor re- compression (MVR). With scarcity and stress for fresh water, the industry is now more aware of the water recycling and saving initiatives.
How is Thermax an edge over other water treatment companies?
As you know, Thermax has a spectrum of product which caters to the water requirement of both, the industry as well as the commercial segments. We have more than 45 years of industry expertise in providing innovative solutions and customer experience in meeting water and wastewater treatment needs through our solutions, products and services. With more than 500 large scale water treatment plants and more than 25,000 standardized products installed, Thermax caters to industry-wide solutions from smaller capacity products to large projects. From our smallest 200 litres per hour plant capacity going up to 100 million liters per day size capacity catering to small, medium and large enterprises.
Thermax was the first to install a large scale desalination plant in India, and was also the first to install an effluent recycle plant in India. We also offer “plug-n-play” standardised skid mounted and containerised plants making it easier for the industry and community to adapt these technologies into their systems.
We have supplied advanced treatment technologies such as Membrane Bio-Reactors (MBRs) and Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBRs) in both, Industry and Urban sectors. We have now developed modularized plug-and-play MBRs and SBRs specifically for the infrastructure and urban segments.
These newly developed products, which are compact, skid-mounted Sewage Treatment Plants, have a capability of Nutrient Removal (Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorous) as per updated CPCB and NGT norms, and can be installed in less than 3.5 meters, in a basement. The product comes with a PLC Panel eliminating any need of human intervention required while product operation. These are a few innovative breakthrough products Thermax has been working on.
Thermax’s project management and site execution capability has been distinguished in the industry. We carry out the execution with utmost care and support also taking care of the high levels of safety at every level. We have also built an innovation led play in niche applications offering solutions oriented approach to our customers.
Thermax also has an Integrated Service Play with more than 140 performance management sites running across India. Many customers have preferred to stay with us since years. We are also helping customers revamp & retrofit their facilities to achieve maximum efficiency in their existing water utilities.
Although Water & Wastewater treatment is a booming industry, has the economic slowdown affected the industry? How do you think the market will perform or develop in 2020 in such a situation?
I think the demand is geared to increase since many industries understand the stressed levels of available water resources and the increased need for water utilisation. The awareness has increased and the governments are also pushing norms in the industry. The demand for decentralised, packaged recycle plants and zero liquid discharge plants are also increasing. The dyeing and bleaching industry in the South Indian knitwear hub Tirupur is known as the first to opt for zero liquid discharge (ZLD) in a systematic manner, eliminating the release of pollutants. All other industries in every part of India are now following. The components of ZLD, including reverse osmosis, enable extensive reuse and recovery of water and salts, and the process minimizes the freshwater requirements. As the water is relatively costly, reuse makes sound commercial sense.
In fact, we have been at the forefront in offering the best ZLD Solutions to our customers through our years of expertise. We also have an experience in carrying out operational activities at more than 50 ZLD sites with reputed companies in India. We have also been helping the industries with innovative solutions for Decentralised and Packaged Recycle Plants as well. In the next decade I see a major push in these segments, from the industries, in addition to the environmental proposals and changes pushed from the Government. Water, as I see, will be the forefront of industrial sustainability.
How effectively can sewage water be recycled and reused and will it be effective in future? Do you see it as an opportunity?
Absolutely! Many Cities and Industries have begun to recycle and reuse the sewage water to meet their needs. Nagpur is leading the efforts with recycling more than 90% of the sewage water it generates, and now Noida is all set to outdo Nagpur by recycling 100% of the sewage water generated in the city. This water would irrigate the green-belts and parks, saving millions of litres of water per day of fresh water. There are many examples across the industry where sewage is treated to recycle water for industrial use. The demand for sewage recycle is increasing by the day.
Sewage is a resource that can also be recycled for various uses like gardening, toilet flushing and car wash. It is relatively easier to treat and recycle sewage.
In fact, cities and countries like Brisbane, Singapore, Namibia and US states such as California are recycling wastewater for drinking. While the use of sewage for potable purposes is still to pick up in a big way globally, its use for non-potable ends worldwide is far more common.
In fact, Thermax has recently commissioned a 25 MLD sewage recycle plant for a leading non-ferrous major in Rajasthan, where the sewage from Udaipur City is recycled for process needs thereby, saving fresh water requirement and rejuvenating lakes and water bodies nearby. Similarly, a SEZ in south of India recycles the sewage and pump back the treated water for industrial use. This is an important and a unique example of industry-city partnership to saving water.
I feel recycle and utilising sewage water for our utility water needs has great opportunities in the coming years.
You have been in the industry for long, what are your recommendations for India’s Water sector?
Though the regulations from the Pollution Control Boards have been made more stringent, there is a need to act and enforce these rules and regulation in all the industries for wastewater disposal. I feel wastewater recycle must also be made mandatory with Zero Liquid Discharge concepts promoted across industries. There is also a need to promote Decentralised Sewage Treatment Plants which should be made a mandatory requirement in the urban sector. Sea Water Desalination solutions has to be promoted in Water Scarce Regions. I expect to see major advances on these growth opportunities for water and wastewater treatment, and the water industry as a whole. There is a lot done, but a lot more needs to be done. It is upon the present generations to conserve the most valued resource we have on our planet – Water.