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New tool designed to move towards sustainable water use

  • New tool designed to move towards sustainable water use
  • Researchers from the Science Research Council of Spain (CSIC) are leading the development of software to evaluate the performance of additives that aim to remove mineral scale in water treatment systems.

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Sustainable water use is a challenge that involves finding methods to meet the demand for this resource without compromising its future availability. Currently, the accumulation of mineral scale in water systems is a problem for industries that rely on water treatment as well as for household appliances such as dishwashers and boilers, particularly in areas where desalination is vital to provide clean water. Traditionally, the solution to prevent scale formation has been the use of powerful but harmful additives (such as phosphonates), which can cause eutrophication or even contamination of the water. To avoid these issues, the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences of the Research Council of Spain (IACT-CSIC) is leading the development of a high-performance, advanced method with automated data analysis that addresses the growing demand for more sustainable water use.

Researchers from France, Germany, and Spain, led by IACT-CSIC, have developed user-friendly visualization software that allows for the rapid assessment of the performance of various anti-scaling agents under a wide range of conditions. This approach enables a straightforward evaluation and quantification of the effectiveness and operational range of each antiscalant, allowing for direct comparison of different additives and mixtures.

In their experiments, the researchers tested the reliability of the method by studying the precipitation of mineral scale in hard water and seawater, demonstrating that their approach not only accurately measures effectiveness but can also adapt to more complex experiments. As a fast and reliable means of detection, this tool will accelerate the identification of effective scale inhibitors, thereby contributing to the advancement of sustainable practices in various industries dependent on water treatment and mineral precipitation control.

This tool will accelerate the identification of effective scale inhibitors, thereby contributing to the advancement of sustainable practices in various industries

The wide array of easy-to-use calculation and visualization tools, provided in the form of open Python code, also allows for an intuitive and detailed assessment of the performance patterns of individual additives as well as multi-component systems. It can also be easily adapted to meet specific needs for more complex experiments or to more accurately simulate real-world working conditions, for example, by including relevant dirt components for dishwasher applications or organic compounds from seawater in desalination processes. The methods presented in this study will help accelerate the development cycles in anti-scaling research and support next-generation anti-scaling formulations with sustainable properties.

"We are currently developing the next version of this tool to include machine learning algorithms to optimize the selection of new sustainable additives, which will be key to making desalination operations more cost-effective and helping to combat the increasingly frequent droughts threatening the Mediterranean region," says project leader and IACT researcher Alexander Van Driessche.

This study has received funding from BASF SE and the Ministry of Universities, Research, and Innovation of the Andalusian Regional Government (PROYEXCEL_00771 - SMART-water).

Read the original news in iAgua.

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