Ultra-pure water factory in Emmen

On 28 September 2010, a new factory was opened in Emmen by Crown Prince (now King) Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The facility supplies ultra-pure water to Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM). NAM turns the water into steam that it uses for the extraction of oil at Schoonebeek in Drenthe province. The oil field there had been abandoned, but oil can once again be extracted at the site thanks to the new technique of high-pressure steam injection, which makes the viscous oil more liquid. The extremely clean water prevents damage to pumps and turbines.

The ultra-pure water is produced and supplied by NieuWater B.V., a joint venture of Drenthe Water Supply Company and the Velt & Vecht Water Board. The raw material for this process is effluent from the sewage treatment plant at Emmen, which was designed by Witteveen+Bos. To remove all suspended solids, nutrients and salts from the effluent, Witteveen+Bos designed a state-of-the-art treatment process consisting of the following steps: ultrafiltration, double biological active carbon filtration, double reverse osmosis, and finally electro-deionisation. The end-product is almost 100% pure H2O, so clean that it contains virtually nothing else, not even the minerals normally found in drinking water. This has elevated treated sewage water to the raw material for the cleanest possible type of water.

The combination of state-of-the art technologies, extremely thorough sewage water treatment and the application for oil extraction purposes makes this project particularly challenging. It represents a ground-breaking development in the field of wastewater recycling, both in the Netherlands and internationally.

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