Leaders Talk

RO is Our Passion We Know its Strengths and Limitations

Ramya Narayanan

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9 min read
A Chemical Engineer by profession and with nearly three decades of Industry experience ranging from manufacturing, consulting and sales & marketing, Mr Chrys Fernandes joined DuPont Water Solutions (formerly part of Dow) in 2006, as part of the New Business Development group evaluating new technologies, business models and M&A for business growth. In 2011, he took on the responsibility of Regional Commercial Leader for the Residential and Commercial product line, with responsibility to grow and expand the markets for the India Sub-continent. In September 2013, he was given the responsibility to lead the Regional Marketing & Business strategy leader for the Asia Pacific Region. In his current role as India Business Leader, he is responsible to help build and implement a strong business growth strategy for India. Understanding future customer needs and working with multifunctional team is core, ensuring DuPont is at the front end to develop and launch products that set the trend for the market. Prior to joining DuPont, he worked for Lahmeyer International India GmbH, with their water consulting division. During this period, Mr Fernandes worked extensively with local governments, multilateral funding institutions for urban water and wastewater infrastructure projects. He started his Career with Degrémont in India with the Design and Engineering Division, and then moved to a Sales and marketing role. Besides his professional aspirations, he likes to travel, read and enjoys long runs and biking. Backed by his experience and business acumen, Mr Fernandes opens out exclusively to Water Today about the market dynamics, new technologies, and global perspective of the wastewater treatment and the value of reuse of industrial wastewater.
Chrys Fernandes
Chrys Fernandes
Q

In your opinion, how does the Industrial wastewater landscape look like in India, and what are the growth challenges in this sector?

A

Water is an essential part of the manufacturing, delivery and use of products and services for almost every company. Water-related risks can disrupt business operations of any company if not accessed and addressed. There is an increasing awareness about the precarious balance that must be maintained with nature. The Government of India has been tightening regulations on wastewater discharge and implementing strict standards about water consumption in alignment with global trends. Industries are now looking for alternative and innovative ways to manage wastewater. This is fundamental to business sustainability

The industrial wastewater segment is in a rapid growth stage. The segment is evolving rapidly with various technologies and industries are taking interest in the latest developments to find the right fitment. Industries are searching for ways to use water more efficiently, particularly in water-scarce environments like India. Managing industrial wastewater responsibly creates opportunities for the safe use and reuse of water sources to augment freshwater supplies making it available for potable use.

Policies and regulations are the biggest driver that can promote industrial wastewater treatment and reuse. While we have the stick, it’s important to have the carrot - incentivizing businesses to accelerate wastewater treatment and reuse. The above must go hand in hand, if we want to see a healthy growth.

As for technology, this exists, but every industry needs solutions that meet their needs. At DuPont we believe that understanding the customer requirement and providing a future-ready and environment-friendly solution is a key to sustainable wastewater treatment.

Q

What is your perception of the market dynamics and key regulations impacting the Industrial Wastewater treatment market in India?

A

The management of industrial wastewater is a complex task and the regulations put the onus for safe and environmentally sound handling of waste on the industry. Containing the contaminants from industrial wastewater to prevent harmful effects on human health and the environment is a shared objective for the government as well as the industries. We see Indian industries are rising to the occasion and proactively setting sustainability goals to reduce their water footprint.

This is an extremely positive dynamic where regulators and industries are on the same page working together to resolve the challenge. There is a need for partnership between public and private sector to define wastewater management problems, jointly create solutions and implement projects. We are quite satisfied with these encouraging developments in this segment.

Q

The increasing global demands for wastewater recycle and reuse have put immense pressure on industries to find a path towards a more sustainable future. What is DuPont’s strategy in achieving this goal?

A

To put the crisis in perspective, let me quote the TMR report which predicts that the global market for recycling and reuse of water will reach $22.3 billion by 2021. Considering the regional and global trends concerning wastewater quality management, wastewater recycling, and reuse, there has been a strong adoption in India. There is governmental support and incentives for technology development, implementation and deployment, complemented by industries striving to achieve their sustainability goals and reduce carbon footprint.

DuPont is committed to providing industry-leading, long-lasting and cost-effective solutions. Our technical expert teams are partnering and collaborating with our customers and their technical teams to achieve their goals.

Q

DuPont has mastered the processing technology with an array of end-to-end customized solutions in water treatment. Tell us about the state-of-the-art processes that you are engaged in.

A

Definitely! Working together for a clean-water future is our mission. Our approach always has been to understand our customer needs and customizing solutions that works efficiently and economically in the long run. Providing end-to-end solutions ensures that superior quality is maintained at all stages leading to customer satisfaction – be it reverse osmosis (RO), Ion Exchange Resin (IER) or Ultrafiltration (UF).

Our products are based on decades of industry leadership. Talking about specifics, in the industrial space, our complete portfolio of UF including MBR can be used as pre-treatment for industrial wastewater. This process is critical as ultrafiltration reduces the pressure on the RO membrane and increases the life of the membrane. Our Fortilife product series is crucial for ZLD (Zero Liquid Discharge) which improves water economy by 95%.

Our FilmTec™ Fortilife™ RO, and nanofiltration (NF) elements help our industrial and domestic consumers with reduced water costs and lower operating expenses, achieve sustainability goals, minimized biofouling problems and move towards minimal liquid discharge (MLD). RO is our passion, we know its strengths and also know its limitations. With the Closed-Circuit RO (CCRO) process and software, we can finally unleash its full power, making your system easy, reliable and efficient.

We give immense importance to sustainability and have an ongoing program to study to help understand a second life for membranes.
Q

What are your expansion plans in India? Is there a line-up of new technologies?

A

DuPont is synonymous with customer-centric innovation and uplifting the quality of life. India is an important market for us and we are invested in promoting a healthy lifestyle in the subcontinent. In the past 20 years and even today we are learning more and more about our consumers and their needs and continuously introducing new products in our portfolio. We have a dedicated team of technical experts for our customers in India. Our high-quality products and the dedicated technical resources who provide guidance, support and assistance to our customers, have raised the bar for the entire industry. DuPont believes in creating a legacy, and we are proud of the work we have done till now.

Q

Please elaborate on DuPont’s prowess to provide solutions for new generation water systems with noteworthy projects.

A

We have regularly spotted trends and provided products that are crucial from the ease of use, reliability and efficiency parameters. There is a looming drinking water crisis, and you might have read the news about Cape Town recently. Similarly, providing access to water that is free from contaminants, pollutants and pathogens is becoming tougher. However, with CCRO by Desalitech (our acquired business) there is a hope to mitigate and even reverse the situation.

CCRO is an advanced water purification technology that saves more water with less cost and lesser operational challenges. It is easy to use, helps industries to meet their sustainability goals by reducing footprint, uses less energy, is reliable and highly efficient by keeping operational costs low. India is taking of regulations with recovery >90%. With CCRO, we can make this happen.

Q

Membrane filters are made of different materials mainly polymeric and ceramic, so can these be recycled and used for other purposes?

A

At the heart of water purification and various industrial processes is separation technology with osmosis and reverse osmosis. Membrane filters are intricate and highly advanced components that can separate nanoscale particles, molecules and metal ions. At DuPont, while we are continuously innovating to make membranes with increased efficiency, extended life spans and lower cost, there is a considerable effort being made to recycle and reuse them. We give immense importance to sustainability and have an ongoing program to study to help understand a second life for membranes. Our membranes offer excellent performance in water purification and have been reused and recycled by customers finding application in very different spaces.

Q

There are certainly increasing CAPEX and emissions challenges in this competitive marketplace. How does DuPont’s technology cater to cost-effective recovery and maximize the efficiency of treatment plants?

A

True, it is a competitive marketplace. However, since we continue to remain steadfast in our commitment to providing international quality and superior service, we seem to be the favorites among the discerning customers. As the preferred wastewater filtration expert for a variety of industries gives us a unique advantage as well as a responsibility to do better for the consumer.

Our FilmTec™ Fortilife™ portfolio solves the immediate problem of water filtration, as well as offers long-term efficiency in terms of cost. The High-Pressure RO and NF membranes are sensitive to the water economy too, recovering more water with lower energy consumption. Our reliable solutions are reliable and easy to use, which keep the operational troubles away and provide long-term cost-effectiveness.

Q

Please take us through your journey and growth in DuPont? Personal

A

I joined DowDuPont in 2006, as part of the New Business Development group evaluating new technologies, business models and M&A for business growth. In 2011, I took on the responsibility of Regional Commercial Leader for the Residential and Commercial product line, with responsibility to grow and expand the markets for the India Sub-continent. Later in the year 2013, I was given responsibility to lead the Regional Marketing for the Asia Pacific Region which was a very rewarding experience. In my current role as India Business Leader, I am focusing on to empower our customers with wide range of tailor-made water treatment solutions which helps them to meet their sustainability goals.

There are multiple growth opportunities in municipal, industrial and desalination space presently, and we want to drive the space with better technology, innovation and customized solutions.
Q

DuPont has provided many solutions to various industries, is there any particular project that you think was a landmark project for DuPont in India?

A

We have been involved in many landmark projects over the last 20 years. Two prestigious projects that had a huge impact on the quality of life, water management and revenue have been the Chennai Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Reliance Jamnagar Desalination Plant.

The project for CMWSSB in Koyambedu, Chennai is the first-ever project in the country where sewage wastewater is treated with reverse osmosis making it fit for industrial use. This reduced the pressure of providing fresh water to residents and cut the dependency of industries for freshwater. Around 40 MLD of freshwater that was being sent to industries, is now diverted to residents every day, and that is quite an achievement.

With the Reliance Jamnagar Desalination Plant, the challenge was to provide pretreatment to the high fouling seawater off the Jamnagar coast, before it goes into the RO. By using an iSD™ (Internally Staged Design) that gave a good balance between permeate quality and energy consumption, the plant was able to process 168 MLD every day with TDS < 10 mg/lit.

Both the above projects use DuPont Inge UF followed by Dupont FilmTec RO technologies.

Q

How do you plan to lead DuPont in the coming years?

A

DuPont has a huge legacy and it has been an absolute honor, privilege and responsibility to lead the team here in these exceptional times. The water crisis affects people in unimaginable ways, be it urban, rural, municipal, industrial levels. At DuPont, we approach water management in a very humane manner and that enables us to solve problems at the ground level. DuPont is invested and committed to the growth of the water market in India, and we ensure that our access to global learning and international quality products is used to benefit people here. There are multiple growth opportunities in municipal, industrial and desalination space presently, and we want to drive the space with better technology, innovation and customized solutions.

Q

What is the latest from DuPont and how do you expect it to be a game-changer?

A

DuPont has continuously strived to be an innovator and believes in leading from the front in all aspects of the business with best practices and products that make a difference. As a result of cutting-edge research in-house and through acquisitions, our range consisting of MBR, Oxymem, CCRO & B-free represent the latest game-changing technology in water purification and recycling.

Our approach of offering customized solutions that are tailor-made to cater to specific and unique requirements has brought us accolades and loyal customers. For us, every customer is special, and it makes us very proud and satisfied to know that our interventions and solutions have delivered better performance along with energy and cost savings, which ultimately help them in meeting their sustainability goals

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