Zero liquid discharge systems increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence to improve energy efficiency

The rise of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has had strong implications for the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) systems market. To keep pace with the rate of digitalisation in end-user industries, ZLD vendors have implemented the use of IoT-enabled wastewater monitoring and handling systems for improved efficiency, as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and smart meters for monitoring fouling issues in membranes. Additionally, they are making substantial investments in smart solutions and adopting advanced technologies like forward osmosis (FO) and electrodialysis reversal to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Growth Opportunities in the Global Zero Liquid Discharge Systems Market, Forecast to 2024, covers the technologies of membrane systems, brine concentrators, and evaporators. It assesses the challenges, market drivers and restraints, and key trends affecting the future of the market. Disruptive technologies, macro to micro visioning scenarios, and market forecasts by region are analyzed to provide an overall understanding of the dominant segments and technologies. Lastly, the study examines innovative financial models, the role of smart solutions, and customer-focused and other value added-services.

“Leveraging existing expertise and developing smart technologies to efficiently improve the energy efficiency of the ZLD process will be a key differentiator in the market,” said Akshaya Gomatam Ramachandran Research Analyst Energy & Environment. “Vendors realise that developing advanced technologies will give them ample opportunities to customize ZLD packages based on customer requirements and therefore, they are increasingly seeking collaboration and partnership opportunities with technology providers or government agencies.”

As innovations in thermal systems, membrane distillation systems, and FO technology will significantly reduce the overall operational costs, the systems will become affordable to a wider customer base.

“In addition to high value-added products, there is also a large market for specialized value-added services, such as operations & maintenance for industrial customers,” noted Ramachandran. “Companies like Aquatech, Desalitech, and Saltwater Technologies have already created portfolios of technologies that specifically address existing challenges and demand for customer-focused services.”

There are significant growth opportunities for players in emerging regions such as Asia-Pacific. For instance, the increasing number of coal-to-chemical plants in China has created an urgent need for advanced ZLD systems. The most successful vendors are likely to:

  • Employ business models like build-own-operate (BOO), BOO–transfer, BOO-maintain, and engineering, procurement and construction.
  • Offer pre-feasibility studies and value-added services, such as an analysis of the type of wastewater, to help customers choose the best-fit ZLD system.
  • Partner with IoT solution providers to digitally transform wastewater recycling.
  • Develop an effective brand positioning strategy based on the needs of industrial customers.