Saving water: complete water recycling for industry

Access to clean water is a basic requirement for effective production. In Brazil, however, many regions suffer from acute water shortages. Some urban centres where large numbers of industrial enterprises have moved in, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Belo Horizonte, are facing the worst water crisis in over 84 years, as Brazil's environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, explained in Brasilia.

Identifying the most suitable water technology

All the water and wastewater streams were analysed for an internationally operating enterprise at a Brazilian manufacturing site producing cosmetics. This was the starting point for developing a viable water-recycling concept.

The following questions needed to be answered:

  • What wastewater streams are there?
  • Do they contain resources that can be economically recycled?
  • Can the wastewater streams be used for energy production (e.g. biogas production or heat recovery)?
  • What water qualities are required at the site (e.g. for irrigation, cleaning or reuse in production)?

A water and wastewater register was created for the entire factory.

Two main water streams were identified in the plant:

1. Wastewater containing predominantly inorganic loads from the supply circuits: backwash water, reclaimed water from the water softening plant, and purge water from the cooling tower and boiler.

2. Wastewater containing predominantly organic loads from manufacturing cleaning processes.

Sustainable water conditioning concept

The conditioning concept is based on laboratory- and pilot-scale tests.

The wastewater containing organic loads is treated using the Biomar® OMB membrane biology treatment. Submerged membranes are used to treat the discharge from the biological treatment stage. This further improves the quality of the treated wastewater.

Dissolved and undissolved salts are pre-filtered out of the inorganic wastewater with a multimedia filter and separated in a downstream Envopur® reverse osmosis system. The accumulated concentrates are evaporated.

With the water technology installed, the cosmetics manufacturer can reuse 90% of its wastewater. The mechanical equipment was preassembled in Germany by EnviroChemie in a compact EnviModul design, tested and then set up ready for connection on site in Brazil.


With an intelligent concept and first-class water technology, water can be used sustainably and energy-efficiently. And it is economically feasible even with small wastewater quantities.


  • 90% wastewater recycling for re-use in production
  • Modular plant concept for water recycling with a performance of 1–100 m³/h
  • Production site secured despite water shortage
  • Quality assurance through wastewater technology preassembled and tested in Germany
  • Modular system can be easily extended or adapted to changes in conditions


“With modern water technology and a concept adapted to the existing operating conditions, it is often possible to created economically viable solutions for water reuse even with small wastewater quantities.” Elmar Billenkamp, Director Sales & Design, EnviroChemie.

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