Treatment of Groundwater with Increased Sulfate Concentration

Innovative options and limits of a resource and energy efficient drinking water management

Background of this project is the challenge of increased sulfate concentrations in raw waters for drinking water applications. To develop resource and energy efficient solutions, the largest two German water suppliers cooperate with two water research companies as well as two technology firms. Currently, the reduction of sulfate content causes high specific energy consumption and is challenging to estimate regarding process stability and cost development. Commercially available processes are low pressure reverse osmosis/nanofiltration and ion exchange.

Scheme of sulphate removal from drinking water with system boundaries
Fig.: Scheme of sulphate removal from drinking water with system boundaries

Goal of the project is to provide model-based, reliable statements on sulfate removal from groundwater on the basis of operational data from pilot plants. An alternative innovative process with modified ultrafiltration membranes is developed that allows significantly lower specific energy consumption for sulfate removal. All processes are evaluated through life-cycle-assessment. Finally, a recommendation for a resource and energy efficient treatment of groundwater with increased sulfate concentrations for German drinking water suppliers is provided.