Treatment of air and water in the textile industry

Sustainable and cost-efficient air and water treatment in the textile industry

The global textile industry is currently undergoing more challenging times than ever before since the start of the industry. Structural, legislative and technical changes are supported by public opinion on, among others, the industry’s environmental impact, which have led the industry into a brand new business landscape.

New more sustainable technologies are emerging on all fronts, improving all parts of the production process. The methods and technologies that are used for the treatment of the process- and wastewater are especially important because they will have a huge impact on both the profitability of the business and on the environment. Huge savings can be achieved in a sustainable way that benefits both business and the environment.

The textile industry happens to be one of the major sources of environmental pollutions in the world. Its global presence makes the industry’s management of its environmental impact a truly global concern.

Mellifiq offers more than 20 years of experience implementing efficient advanced oxidation solutions and technologies in water treatment for a wide range of industries and municipalities and governmental organisations. Our innovative solutions, combining ozone and conventional technologies, are ideal for water and air treatment in the production process as well as treatment of the discharged wastewater.

Our goal is to offer a more efficient and sustainable solution that helps you improve your business profitability and output quality. By reducing your energy costs you will also automatically lower your production facilities’ environmental impact.

Common air and water treatment challenges in the textile industry

Emissions of pollutants

There are many chemicals involved in the textile manufacturing process, such as biocides, surfactants, reducing agents, stain removers, various types of acids, waxes, fats, salts, binders, thickeners, etc., and there are many steps. But all elements have one thing in common, they all add their part of harmful pollutants to the wastewater. From dyeing, bleaching, gluing, heat welding, softening, blasting and wetting, to the various coloring the yarn or the fabric, printing, all the way to the finishing process, all phases produce high concentrations of biologically difficult-to-degrade compounds.

One of the major sources of emissions of pollutants originates from the fabric printing process where a decorative design or text is applied to fabric products by various screen printing methods. This process leads both to recalcitrant molecules in the production wastewater and as Volatile Organic Content (VOC) gas. Surging environmental restrictions require effective treatment of these air and water streams in order to secure a healthy work environment and avoid polluted water recipients. In many facilities, jeans and other clothes are commonly bleached to create a “washed” look.

All of the challenges in the textile industry mentioned above can be achieved with ozone treatment, which presents a very effective way of reducing operational costs and lower environmental emissions compared to traditional techniques.

Overview of the screen printing process

  • Roller
  • Flat screen printer
  • Rotary screen printer.

In the roller process, print paste is applied to an engraved roller after which fabric is pressured by the roller, creating a printed design.

In rotary screen printing, print paste is distributed inside tubular screens and is printed on the fabric between a rubber belt and the tubular screen. Print paste is pumped to the rotary screen and a dispenser distributes the paste while fabric is continually fed from a roll. The continuous belt collects excess solvent and water wash.For flat screen printing, fabric is pressured onto a screen which has been prepared with print paste.

Prior to collected dry printed fabric, the fabric is dried which vents solvent and water.

Textile printing machine in production facility

Color removal from textile wastewater

The release of colored wastewater from the textile production represents a serious global environmental problem and a real public health concern. Color removal from textile wastewater is a huge challenge for the industry. Up to now, there hasn’t been a single nor a combination treatment technology available on the market, that effectively could decolorize the effluent wastewater, which also has been economically attractive and would help meet the environmental goals of the production facility.

Water scarcity

Water scarcity has become a major issue all over the world, especially in the region where textile production occurs. With a growing demand for water resources, traditional methods for process and wastewater treatment in the textile industry must be replaced by more sustainable methods such as the technology that Mellifiq offers, in order to have a sufficiently high quality of the process and the effluent wastewater.

Stringent environmental standards

The increasingly stringent environmental standards and legislations that are being introduced by more and more countries in response to, among other things, the textile industry’s increased water consumption, is also an important challenge for process water and wastewater treatment in the industry.

Our solutions

Typical pollutant load from the textile industry

The solvent used to produce printing paste will be wasted during the drying or printing process, generating VOC and wastewater containing organics which are difficult to treat. On average, screen printing runs may require up to 1,200 kg of organic solvents, most of which are emitted as VOC from the dryer process. Up to 80 kg of organic solvents can be emitted in the wastewater. The US EPA has estimated the following potential emissions in various forms from textile printing, based on information directly from the textile industry. Similar printing processes exist in the carpet textile industry.

Source type Percent of emissions Roller Rotary screen Flat screen
Organic solvents used 100193 23288
Water emissions 6.2 12118
VOC during printing3.571 10
VOC from trays and barrels 0.3101
Flashoff1.5304
Dryer88.517021255

Average annual emissions from a 10,000 m textile printing run for various printing techniques (kg).

Emission constituents

Both VOC and aqueous waste from the printing process contain various organics such as alcohols, dyes and aromatics. The table below displays common emission constituents in the wastewater and VOC.

PollutantSourceEmission type
Unfixed dyeOrganic dyestuffWastewater
Aliphatic hydrocarbons Printing paste, bindersVOC and Wastewater
Aromatic aminesOrganic dyestuffWastewater
Diethylene glycol and polyolsStabilizing agent in printing paste Wastewater
AmmoniaPigmentsVOC and Wastewater
MethanolFixation agentsVOC and wastewater
Phosphoric acid esters Solvents VOC and wastewater
Acrylates and vinylacetatesSolventsVOC
Sulphates and sulphitesReducing agentsWastewater

Wastewater and VOC emissions from various sources.

Mellifiq’s ozone treatment for screen printing emissions

Wastewater

Mellifiq have more than 20 years of experience in using advanced oxidation technologies like ozone technology. Ozone technology is a proven effective method to treat the compounds both in the wastewater and the VOC by effective oxidation of organic molecules. Wastewater typically contains high levels of COD with a COD:BOD ratio of 4:1 to 5:1.

Not only does ozone oxidize the organic pollutants, it is capable of converting non-biodegradable COD to readily biodegradable BOD, lowering the COD:BOD ratio for subsequent biological treatment. Depending on the COD and BOD concentration, ozone can oxidize the majority of the compounds which lowers the wastewater load to acceptable regulatory levels. An ozone system for textile wastewater may save significant operational costs and footprint.

TypeFootprint (sqm) Energy demand (MWh/year)Indicative investment cost
Biological treatmentUp to 80-120350-550Very high
Ozone treatment10-12130-170Medium
Fenton process10-12 130-170High

*Estimates on operational costs and footprint of different treatment technologies for textile wastewater *depends largely on load, indications only

Mellifiq has successfully treated screen printing wastewater from a large international clothing supplier, reducing COD levels from 700 mg/L to 100 mg/L and BOD levels from 150 mg/L to 50 mg/L using our compact systems. The full scale system is treating 20 m3/hr of organic wastewater per day to comply with local regulations.

We welcome you to read more about how we treat BOD and COD with ozone-based treatment systems. Read more about this here!

VOC ozone treatment

Destroying VOC fugitive gases by burning is an effective but very costly method. Ozone treatment may reduce the operational costs 1000-fold by avoiding the substantial energy demand associated with incineration.

 

Compared to typical treatment by incineration of hazardous volatile compunds, ozone effectively reacts with these pollutants in gas phase. This eliminates the major energy demands that follows incineration. For VOC gases, ozone is typically combined with an active carbon filter where ozone treatment reduces VOC gases up to 90% with secondary polishing to reduce completely the fugitive gases. Please visit the VOC treatment application page to read more.

Textile bleaching by ozone

In modern designer clothing production, fabrics such as jeans are bleached using oxidation by chemicals to create a washed look. The highly oxidative characteristics of ozone enable a sustainable bleaching method without excessive chemical handling or costs. In addition, ozone leaves no by-products which need to be treated. Please go to our Bleaching application page for more information.

Ozone color removal

Textile wastewater is often treated on-site using biological wastewater treatment processes. This may provide around a 90% reduction of the incoming COD and BOD. The remaining COD and BOD may still constitute major environmental loads. Typically it is not possible to remove the discoloration of the wastewater originating from the textile production described above. Ozone is a very effective color removal technology as a part of the tertiary treatment step. Complete color removal can be achieved in 5-15 minutes of ozone exposure depending on ozone capacity. At the same time, COD and BOD can be treated to achieve near-zero emissions from any textile factory using ozone.

The Ozonetech RENA system powered by the superior corona discharge technique

For ozone treatment at textile factory, Mellifiq employs the Ozonetech RENA Tellus X series, which is Mellifiq’s tailored solution for large loads. Click here to read more about this system.

At Mellifiq, we base each treatment solution on tailored design and engineering, combining ozone with suitable pre-treatment and polishing steps. Depending on the requirements, we design our systems with up to 100% removal of both recalcitrant molecules in the production wastewater and as Volatile Organic Content (VOC) gas.

All RENA systems are designed with utmost attention to detail and performance, specifically low energy consumption and low maintenance need.

Pharmaceutical residues are typically present at nanogram and microgram levels depending on the source. Our most common designs cover ozone treatment, which degrade micropollutants at a very high rate, followed by carbon filter polishing, or extended ozonation. Our designs allow for treatment costs of less than €0.0065/m3.

APIs can be neutralized at rapid rates, which accommodates smaller overall system footprints.

In-house designed final polishing

All water treatment solutions combining a RENA system and a final polishing step are sized and configured for each specific client and task. With the introduction of O-GAC™, the time and cost of replacing the activated carbon are highly reduced.

Ozone and activated carbon – a perfect match

Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) units are good alternatives to oxidation based API removal systems, although frequent maintenance must be considered. We have developed a unique combined oxidation-GAC system that significantly reduces the GAC replacement and backwashing requirements. Each GAC unit is in-house designed to achieve the most optimal combination with regard to power consumption, removal rate and footprint.

Recommended products

Ozonetech RENA Tellus

The Ozonetech RENA Tellus segment offers the following operational enhancements:

  • Plug and play turn-key solution ozone system for large scale facilities
  • Multiple options and highly customizable
  • Covers a wide range of treatment requirements
  • High treatment capacity, up to 1000 m3 / hour
  • Efficient ozone output, reducing energy consumption and environmental footprint
  • Modular design with high redundancy resulting in a very stable performance over time
  • Integrated solution with automation, sensors, controls and dissolution
  • Rugged design for harsh environments
  • Easily fits in a container for shipment across the globe

Watermaid

  • Pressurized multimedia and adsorption systems
  • Automatic backwashing
  • Wide range capacity
  • Highly efficient polishing for complete removal

Contact us today

Don’t hesitate to contact Mellifiq to find out how we can solve your specific needs for treating your industrial textile waste issues. We provide the safest possible method to help you reach regulatory compliance at the lowest possible operational costs at a small environmental footprint. Give us a call or send us an email to come in contact with our experienced engineers. We look forward to hearing from you.