Canadian plant puts membranes to the test

A facility using membranes inspired by seaweed looks set to revolutionise water treatment in Ontario.

Membrane filtration is improving water quality in Ontario

Membrane filtration is improving water quality in Ontario

The Ontario town which houses the plant, Mississauga, may be better known among environmentalists for a rail crash in 1979 which led to the release of a huge cloud of chlorine - and the largest evacuation in North American history until Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

But the town is hoping for a new claim to fame as it has installed a new water treatment system using ozone and nanofiltration membranes to sieve lake water to make it safe for public consumption.

According to its operators the membrane-based treatment at the Lakeview plant, on the banks of Lake Ontario, will provide cleaner water, more consistently, than the conventional treatment plant with which it shares a site.

While membrane filtration is not new, and has been widely adopted in other parts of the word, the Mississauga plant is the largest of its kind in North America and uses locally-designed technology produced by Zenon.

Designers looked to nature for inspiration - while other membranes filter water by pushing it out through pores in the tubes, the Zenon technology mimics seaweed by sucking water into the central chamber.

The state-owned water company operates the plant, but it must compete for its contract against the private sector - and the membrane plant is more expensive to operate than conventional treatment.

Darko Kodric, a spokesman for the plant, told edie that the cost was justified by the results: "At the end of the day, we have better water."

"We can produce more water in a smaller area, the footprint is smaller and laws are changing with regulations getting stricter all the time."

He added that the combined ozone and membrane treatment also 'prepares us for new and emerging pathogens and endocrine disruptors.'

Not investing in infrastructure now would only to come back to haunt you later, he said.

"Then you're being short-sighted, you're not looking at the future. If you don't, you'll have to spend money later on," he said.

"The water quality over-rides the cost."

Sam Bond



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