During 2018 an increasing number of commercial players have entered the FO market. According to a recent press release, Darco Water Technologies – with headquarters in Singapore – are aiming to capture market shares for FO-based solutions in the region through their newly developed know-how in building and operating FO systems.
Darco Water Technologies’ Technical Manager, Regin Søndergaard Andersen, has kindly agreed to a Q & A session with ForwardOsmosisTech to share his view on the emerging FO opportunities in South East Asia.
Q: When did you first hear about forward osmosis?
A: I was first introduced to FO during the Asia Water exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, April 2016. At that time Darco Water Technologies had just signed an LOI with Aquaporin for joint piloting and test-bedding of FO.
Q: What caught your interest?
A: The ability of forward osmosis processes to directly remove water from a wide range of aqueous solutions without the need for advanced pre-treatment and high energy input such as heat or hydraulic pressure.
Q: Which market segments show most commercial promise for FO-based solutions?
A: Dewatering of highly challenging industrial wastewater containing pollutants such as recalcitrant COD. Existing solutions to handle this type of wastewater are very cost intensive. Besides this, forward osmosis shows a lot of promise for concentration of aqueous solutions containing valuables. Here, forward osmosis adds value to the product by conserving the molecular integrity of whatever you’re concentrating. Getting FO onto the production floor as opposed to dealing with wastewater is a very promising route for rapid commercialization.
Q: What are the main technical risks for commercial adaptation?
A: Although FO membranes have very high rejection to pollutants and/or valuables, carry-over into the draw solution is unavoidable. If a reverse osmosis system is used for draw solution regeneration, there will be build-up of pollutants in the draw solution over time, which will result in membrane fouling over time. We definitely need more data from FO trials & pilots to evaluate the influence of draw solution pollution on overall OPEX costs. As an alternative to RO, draw solution regeneration could be done with NF instead to reduce build-up of unwanted compounds in the draw loop. Whether or not NF is practical in real life applications remains to be seen.
Q: Why have Darco entered the FO market?
A: Darco has a long tradition of implementing the newest technologies available and through our daily business we see a lot of difficult industrial wastewater. If we can demonstrate real OPEX and CAPEX savings when using FO-based solutions, the market potential is significant even if we – initially – only apply FO in niche applications.
Q: What kind of FO systems have Darco developed so far?
A: We have made 3 types of off-the-shelf FO systems to cater for existing market needs. The first system is a portable FO briefcase, which allows for rapid & affordable onsite FO trials. The briefcase is also great for demos. The second system is a more advance lab test system, which allows the user to perform more in-depth FO trials. Thirdly, we have developed an FO/SWRO hybrid pilot system with a daily treatment capacity of 5-10kld. The pilot is ideal for test-bedding of industrial wastewater treatment. In addition, the pilot can be used directly on the production floor for low volume production of valuables.
Q: Who should people contact if they are interested in more information about your FO systems?
A: You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org