The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)’s announcement that it will revise the effluent limitation guidelines for steam electric power generating units could affect not only how power plants use water, but also how they discharge it. The revised guidelines may lower discharge limits for various contaminants in flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater including mercury, selenium, arsenic, and nitrate/nitrite. Although the specific details of the guidelines are unknown at present, the power industry is evaluating various technologies that may address the new effluent limitation guidelines and promote water conservation. Moreover, the power industry is looking for avenues to increase water usage efficiency, reuse and recycle throughout its plant processes. Final rule approval is expected by the middle of 2014 and new regulations are expected to be implemented between 2017 and 2022 through 5-year NPDES permit cycles. discharge limits for various contaminants including arsenic, mercury, selenium, and nitrate/nitrite [1]. These pollutant limits may be below the levels achievable today with conventional treatment [2].

A growing interest exists in zero liquid discharge (ZLD) facilities and processes in power plant operations. Potentially stringent discharge limits along with water conservation and reuse efforts are two of the major drivers to achieve ZLD. Potential pollutant levels are so low that ZLD may be the best option, if not an outright requirement [1].

Thermal ZLD systems have been the subject of increased interest and discussion lately. They employ evaporating processes such as ponds, evaporators and crystallizers, or spray dryers to produce a reusable water stream and a solid residue (i.e. waste). Evaporators and crystallizers have been employed in the power industry for a number of years. However, typical A growing interest exists in zero liquid discharge (ZLD) facilities and processes in power plant operations. Potentially stringent discharge limits along with water conservation and reuse efforts are two of the major drivers to achieve ZLD. Potential pollutant levels are so low that ZLD may be the best option, if not an outright requirement. A key disadvantage of thermal ZLD is its high capital cost. One way to reduce this cost is to pre-treat the liquid stream using innovative membrane technologies and reverse osmosis (RO).

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