As South Africa’s water challenges grow and water quality deteriorates, there is a much greater need for research and development in the water and wastewater treatment space, says Henk Smit, managing director, Vovani Water Products.

MVI modules from ROPV

South Africa’s water availability could deteriorate rapidly as demand escalates due to growth, urbanisation, inefficient use, degradation of wetlands, water losses and the negative impacts of climate change. Given this developing reality, R&D is crucial in order to adapt water treatment processes to the changing chemical compositions of water sources, effluent and wastewater streams.

However, Smit believes Southern Africa is lagging behind in the R&D of current and new water treatment solutions. “While we are seeing some unique solutions coming out of Southern Africa, as a supplier of many technologies that have been developed internationally, we see that our region needs to do more to develop new products for water treatment that can be supplied to the global water sector,” he says.

R&D is a crucial aspect from Vovani when it comes to selecting international suppliers in order to stay ahead of the challenges as well as competitors, explains Smit. “Continued R&D by both ourselves and our partners gives our customers the knowledge that we are working towards the future of water treatment, and that together we are at the forefront of developing products and solutions that will assist them in their future challenges,” he says.

“If there is no R&D of the current products to improve them where possible, or investment in new products, we know that we will not be competitive in the future in our market to offer our customers the latest solutions for
water treatment.”

New technology

Smit believes this connects well with the theme of the WISA 2018 Conference and Exhibition – ‘Breaking barriers, connecting ideas’ – which seeks to address past, existing and future water resource challenges by promoting collaboration, cooperation and integration within the water sector.

Vovani will be introducing some new developments from three of its suppliers at the WISA exhibition, held in Cape Town in June 2018. These include FRP pressure vessels from , UF membranes from Suez Water Technologies & Solutions, as well as RO membranes from LG Water Solutions.

As larger water treatment projects become more prominent in the Southern African market, Smit believes these technologies offer a more cost-effective solution to the customer, taking into account energy consumption as a factor when designing these water treatment plants.

Energy consumption is very important, particularly when RO is part of that water treatment process. These water treatment plants require a large amount of energy and as the cost of electricity becomes higher, long-term operational costs are affected. With the supply of newly developed products that use less energy but provide the same water quality at a higher yield, we offer customers a solution
to these long-term energy concerns.

The new offerings also speak to the popularity of containerised systems for installations in both South Africa and the rest of Africa. These are becoming increasingly attractive to customers given the footprint savings these new containerised solutions offer, along with the ability to retrofit, upgrade, and expand the capacity of old equipment. Even with larger-scale installations, some projects experience a challenge with the space available for the proposed treatment equipment. These new technologies provide a smaller footprint to achieve the required or even higher flow rate for any specified water treatment plant.

FRP pressure vessels

ROPV is introducing a product solution called MVI (Multi Vessel Integration), which offers customers the opportunity to save on costs as well as on footprint of the RO skids. The new technology circumvents the need to use side ports on the FRP vessels, thereby offering cost savings on ports and couplings. A fibreglass interconnector is used with seals, along with a fibreglass strap to keep the vessels in place.

UF membranes

Suez Water Technologies and Solutions has released the Zeeweed 700B RMS Rack system, with integrated headers for the 700B inside-out UF membranes. Each module will have a surface area of 85 m2, which will be the largest in the market and with the smallest footprint per square metre. The RMS 700B can be used for new installations or to replace current installations from competitors, increasing the surface area without changing the process or hardware.

New Ultra Low Energy RO membranes from LG Water

RO membranes

From LG Water Solutions come the new Ultra Low Energy (UES) RO membranes for brackish water applications. The UES membranes allow a higher permeate flow to be achieved at a lower pressure, while still being able to have a minimum 98% salt rejection.

Awarding winning focus

A testament to Vovani’s focus on R&D is the fact that it was recently awarded the innovation award for the Middle East African region at the Suez Water Technologies & Solutions Awards Dinner in Lisbon, Portugal. The award was given to Vovani for demonstrating the ability to incorporate Suez products into creative solutions for customers.

“Winning this award shows our customers that we work with them to find the best solution possible for their water treatment challenges, with the products we offer from our suppliers. In this way, we can help our customers stay ahead of the challenges in the manner best suited to their individual needs,” explains Smit.