China: Using radiation to treat industrial wastewater for the first time

China: Using radiation to treat industrial wastewater for the first time

China, the globe’s preeminent cloth producer, brought in a new age for radiation technology on Monday, 6th March, launching its very first plant that treats industrial wastewater using electron beams.


Industrial wastewater is cleaned by electron beam technology. Photo credit: Nuclear and Energy Technology Institute, Tsinghua University, Beijing

The new centre is situated 300 kilometres to the south of Shanghai, in Jinhua city, and will treat up to 1500 cubic meters of wastewater per day. If operations go well, the technology would be expanded to clean up to 9000 cubic meters of wastewater in the plant per day and would also be introduced to other textile dyeing centres around the country.

Around the world, a fifth of industrial wastewater pollution can be traced back to textile dyeing and manufacturing alone. But treatment and handling of wastewater remains tough despite rapid progress in wastewater treatment technology in recent years. Up till today, radiation is still the only technology that is able to treat the most obstinate of colorants found in wastewater.

However, while radiation treatment of wastewater is available in advanced countries, they are absent in developing countries, where most of the industry is located now. With majority of the labour having been shifted to developing territories in Asia over recent years where this technology cannot be found, much of the discharge goes untreated.

Other nations boasting considerable textile industries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India are considering bringing in this technology to clean their wastewater as well. Already, gamma irradiation is used in India to treat their municipal sewage sludge.

Photo credit: P. Pavlicek, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

In the picture above, the first tube shows untreated wastewater with textile dye, the second contains irradiated water and the third shows irradiated water treated with a higher dosage. This shows that water treated with irradiation is much safer and cleaner than untreated wastewater.

Source: International Atomic Energy Agency