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Automotive Plant (This image is for illustration purpose only, not of the actual plant)

By Ion Exchange (India) Ltd.


The customer is one of the leading manufacturers of world-class quality motor vehicles. It expanded its manufacturing set up with its “Greenfield” car manufacturing facility at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. The state is, however, moving slowly from irrigation to an industrial economy and has various challenges related to water use for irrigation and industrialization.


The major challenges faced by the customer included:

  • Stringent Regulations and Disposal Norms: The state government enforced stringent regulations and tight norms for the reuse and disposal of wastes. Hence, there was a strong need to maximize the recycling of wastewater and also to introduce environmentally sound, energy-saving techniques for treatment and disposal. The project was mandated to adopt Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD).
  • Water Scarcity and High Fresh Water Cost: Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh had no history of any other industry in the vicinity of the said plant, during the setup phase. Availability of water was a major challenge and water would have to be availed from distant sources. This not only made raw water expensive but would also render it the most expensive resource for the unit.
  • Inconsistent Raw Water Quality: Water in the plant area had been sourced from various distant sources making water quality inconsistent and difficult to keep up with production standards.

Ion Exchange mitigated the above-listed challenges using its pioneering concept of Integrated Water Management with the benefits of:

  • Source Reduction
  • Product Recovery
  • Waste Minimization
  • Water Reuse

Turnkey execution of the project included:


The WTP was important to cater to the industrial and potable water requirements of the customer.

The process and technology used for the industrial water treatment plant are pre-treatment, Ultra-filtration (UF), Reverse Osmosis (RO), designed with 80% water recovery. The RO membrane cleaning system is designed for use with standard cleaning solutions as well as special cleaners.

The capacity for water treatment plant is listed below:

WTP, i.e., Industrial Water (IW) Supply Scheme:

  • Raw Water Feed @ 2000 CuM / Day i.e. 100 CuM / Hr
  • RO Capacity 56 CuM/Hr @ 80% recovery

The Potable Water (PW) supply scheme for factory and subsidiary is designed with pre-treatment including Clarifier, followed by Ultra-filtration (UF), Activated Carbon Filter (ACF), and Ultra-Violet (UV) treatment to feed potable water to designated locations within the factory and its subsidiary. The potable water capacity for the main factory is 750 CuM / Day.


The wastewater which is treated comes from seven sources through car assembly plant namely Phosphate Renewal, Phosphate Rinse, Degrease Press Shop, Degrease Rinse, Misc Wastewater, Electro Deposition (ED) rinse and the water treatment plant i.e. RO wastewater, CWS waste-water. This is then recycled.

The capacity for wastewater treatment plant is listed below:

WWTP with Multi-Effect Evaporator (MEE) and ZLD:

  • Raw Effluent Feed @ 2150 CuM / Day
  • RO-Stage-I Capacity – 71.9 CuM/Hr x 2 Nos. Skids
  • RO-Stage-II Capacity – 14.4 CuM/Hr x 2 Nos. Skids
  • RO-Stage-III Capacity – 14.4 CuM/Hr x 2 Nos. Skids
  • MEE Capacity – 150 KLD (CuM/Day)

Key processes under the wastewater treatment plant are as under:

  • For Phosphate Renewal and Phosphate Rinse Wastewater: Coagulation and flocculation, lamella clarifier, wherein clarified water is collected in equalization tank and the sludge goes to sludge pond, centrifuge and finally to sludge disposal area.
  • For Degrease, Assembly Press Shop and Degrease Rinse Wastewater: Equalization tank, followed by flocculation, Dissolve Air Flotation (DAF), aeration, sedimentation (sludge removal), UF with 93% recovery, RO-I with 80% recovery, RO-II with 75% recovery and RO-III with 60% recovery.
  • Permeate from RO-I and RO-II is directly fed to the Industrial Water (IW) supply pond, while reject is treated in a subsequent stage of RO.
  • Reject from the RO-III is collected in a high saltwater pond and subjected to MEE, i.e., Multi-Effect Evaporator (4, in this case) to recover maximum water in form of condensate and thereby disposing of the generated sludge.
  • Chemical dosing systems are deployed for pre-treatment, as well as main treatment systems as per need and necessity of the treatment/ scheme.

A state-of-the-art design based on INDION MBR technology treats the sewage collected from various sources. STP plant with the capacity of 900 CuM/d was designed based on INDION MBR technology, thereby providing an alternate source other than industrial effluent recycle for process, utility, and low-end applications.


The plant is automated with 24×7 monitoring of critical operations and the critical parameters, through a central Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) system. It also has various other online quality monitoring systems including the pH meters, conductivity analyzers, etc. installed at various key locations as per the requirement for monitoring of different quality parameters.

The ‘permeate’ from all stages of RO i.e. RO-I, RO-II, and RO-III for the WWTP as well as the WTP/ industrial water – RO has an online conductivity monitoring system. The flow measurements are captured through online mag-flow meters. Apart from the above, monitoring of some critical parameters is done in-house on a continuous and daily basis to maintain a record for future reference. A local water-testing laboratory setup is provided to do all these routine tests in-house.

At the project’s concluding stage, when Ion Exchange was carrying out the commissioning and performance guarantee tests at the site, complete water analysis was done through detailed testing of jointly taken samples, from the NABL-accredited laboratory. The samples were taken at designated locations (sampling points) at a pre-decided schedule.

After commissioning of the project our O&M team deployed at the site ensured water quality testing and monitoring, apart from the complete operation of the system.


Ion Exchange completed the detailed engineering, procurement, supply, construction, erection, commissioning, and O&M of the integrated water management project with all required approvals from the customers and consultants, in a record time of just over a year to meet the critical project milestones.

Performance Guarantee (PG) tests were also completed in 2019 in a phased manner to hand over the complete facility to the end customer.


The economic benefits accrued from our Integrated Water Management are given below:

A) The customer has been able to reduce scarce freshwater consumption by saving 2900 Cu Meters/day- by adapting our integrated water management philosophy that resulted in source reduction, product recovery, waste minimization, and water reuse.
B) Further they could reduce their water cost as against the cost of Rs 50/KL for buying raw water which is required to be further treated for potable purposes, production, utility, etc.
C) Apart from meeting stringent ZLD obligation, the company also save costs related to CESS on water discharge.
D) The customer has received excellent payback on investment through:

  • Assured availability of water for process needs as well as low-end uses.
  • Reduced freshwater consumption. Therefore, considerable savings in freshwater costs.
  • Additional savings through the recovery of valuable by-products for reuse in the process
  • Compliance with pollution control regulations and a clean environment through reduced/ zero effluent discharge.

A) Zero Liquid Discharge: The project was mandated to adopt Zero Liquid Discharge. The innovative technologies used by Ion Exchange in the project for achieving ZLD goals have reduced the fresh water cost, conserved precious water in the locality for agriculture and community use. It also ensured the water sources were no longer contaminated from complex liquid effluents, leading to improved ground and surface water quality in the adjoining regions.

B) Achieving the Lowest Specific Water Consumption:

  • Zero Wastage: The recovery of the water in the project, resulted in freeing up tremendous quantities of freshwater for reuse and also the freshwater cost associated with purchasing raw water for the customer and also pressure on local bodies is reduced.
  • Low Sludge: The generation of high solid content sludge means that the disposal of the removed suspended solids is much easier and will also reduce the cost, size as well as the carbon footprint of the customer.

C) Waste Recycling and Its Multiple Usages:

  • The project supports the industries in the area to reduce groundwater and/or surface water consumption
  • Customer has reused the water for industrial processes and low-end applications like gardening, landscaping, etc.
  • ZLD system has helped the customer to maintain greens around areas

The “Greenfield” project was successfully completed on schedule. It is fully operational and meets and supports the ever-increasing production demand with the plant now approaching full capacity utilization. Post commissioning of the integrated water management plant, Ion Exchange also extended its Operation & Maintenance service for 12 months as per the contract.

About the Contributor

Ion Exchange (India) Ltd. is a pioneer of water treatment in India with a legacy spanning over five decades. It is one of the very few companies worldwide with a complete range of solutions for water, wastewater management, solid waste management, and now waste-to-energy. It meets the industry’s need for quality supply of goods and services through our ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System), ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System), and ISO 45001:2018 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System) certified facilities that manufacture world-class ion exchange resins for water and non-water specialty applications, membranes, water treatment chemicals, and specialty process chemicals.

This case study was published in the annual “Finest-50 Global Case Studies” Special Digital Edition, March-April 2022. Click here to read the complete e-Magazine issue.

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