By: Gigaom
A journey through a water cleaning plant in Brazil
About an hour drive outside of the packed streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and into the sprawling Sorocaba region, GE has quietly been leading the way on clean water technology.

About an hour drive outside of the packed streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and into the sprawling Sorocaba region, GE has quietly been leading the way on clean water technology. There at GE’s Brazilian water filtration plant, the company develops mobile (containerized) water reverse osmosis machines, and also mixes chemicals in huge vats for water treatment applications, and cleans waste water in a large outdoor pit.

All of the above processes at the Sorocaba plant are used to clean water for industrial applications, not for human consumption. But similar principles could apply for cleaning drinking water. The type of industrial applications that GE commonly sells some of its clean water tech to include the sugar cane ethanol industry in Brazil, which uses processed water for cooling, pretreatment and for the ethanol mix itself.

GE’s Brazilian site manager Geraldo Menezes says that GE can assemble and ship the containerized mobile filter water device in days to industrial companies that have an urgent need to use clean water. GE’s customers rent the equipment on a weekly basis and GE has a handful of them ready to ship at all times to different parts of Latin America.

Reverse osmosis water cleaning works by pushing water through membranes at a high pressure, which captures all the contaminants, particles and salts from the water. The water that comes out of GE’s mobile unit is far too pure to drink, and would actually make you sick, says Menezes.

The one part of the tour I couldn’t take photos of was the chemical focused part of the plant, where the GE workers mix raw materials to make chemicals that can be used for water treatment. These types of chemicals could be used for ethanol production for cooling towers and the pretreatment process. Because the chemicals are flammable, cell phones and electronics are not allowed near them.

 
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