Aussie chemical-free water treatment cleans up Thai sugar processing

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Aussie chemical-free water treatment cleans up Thai sugar processing

Related tags Water Thailand

Computer-generated frequencies are being charged through wastewater to help sugarcane-processing plants in Thailand meet environmental standards.

This is being done by Hydrosmart, a South Australian company that uses a unique water treatment process to improve water quality without the addition of chemicals. 

Its microprocessors sit on the outside of pipes and emit frequency shots to disrupt the bonds of minerals in the water, dissolving calcium, iron and gypsum scale off pipes. 

It is now being used to reduce algae and improve the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of sugarcane wastewater in the eastern Thai province of Sakeo. 

Managing director Paul Pearce said the onflow from sugarcane wastewater was a serious environmental threat where large amounts of harmful materials were carried into waterways. 

Thailand has certain regulations as to what they can put out to the environment and COD is one of those they have to get to a certain level of​,” he said. 

Our unit allows for the microbes and bacteria to thrive, the beneficial ones, and balance the water to a healthier state by reducing particle size, without the addition of other things​. 

A 60mm PVC pipe that connects to the pipes that pump water out of the wastewater pond
A 60mm PVC pipe that connects to the pipes that pump water out of the wastewater pond

After installing the smaller D60EO model, the changes it has made to the quality of the water have been quite significant, and it has even helped to remove odours.

The sugarcane project was initially run as a trial using a smaller waste pond to test the effectiveness of Hydrosmart’s U-bend technology. 

The D60EO model used in the trial consists of a 60mm PVC pipe that connects to the pipes that pump water out of the wastewater pond. 

Using two sets of frequencies, the economy unit was able to successfully treat the water within four weeks of being installed. 

The plant now plans to install a full-sized model at its primary waste pond in Thailand. 

According to Statista, Thailand exported 7.8m tonnes of sugar in the 2015-2016 financial year. That figure is expected to rise to 8m tonnes this year. 

Pearce said the microprocessor unit was highly efficient and would only use about A$10 (US$7.70) worth of electricity a year in most cases—less than a standard light bulb. 

He said the device required little maintenance and would work year-round as long as it remained plugged in and activated. 

Hydrosmart’s technology is also being applied to textile wastewater in Bangladesh and is improving water quality in the Polynesian state of Tonga. 

South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent in the world and has become a world leader in water treatment and reuse technologies. 

Water Industry Alliance chief executive Rachel Barratt said non-chemical wastewater treatment technologies were becoming an increasingly important element to meeting international environmental standards.  

Sugar cane as an industry internationally is mammoth now and the expectations about its pollution and run off is becoming more stringent​,” she said. 

The processing of sugarcane contains a lot of organic matter and heavy metals so it’s great to see Hydrosmart doing so well internationally and using their solutions to tackle global challenges that have a direct and real impact on other communities​.” 

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