Joost Van der Spurt – R&D and Operation Engineer at Ekopak – Industrial Water Treatment
In November, with my first work experience in water treatment already behind me, I began a new adventure as an R&D and Operation Engineer at Ekopak. This company, which was originally family-owned, has expanded in recent years to become a competitive market player in the area of industrial water treatment, with their primary focus on a total treatment approach. By supplying equipment and chemicals as well as disinfection technology, we guarantee the production of optimal feed water for steam boilers, the cleanest utilities water in hospitals and the purest processing water for numerous breweries. All of this from municipal water, well water or rain water sources. But that’s not the end of it. Once the equipment is up and running, it is my job to monitor the process from A to Z. This includes searching for new techniques as well as weaknesses in existing installations with the goal of achieving a total utilization cost that is as low as possible:
the reduction of the volume of flushing water during the regeneration of a filter or softener,
a decrease in the salt consumption during the regeneration of a softener,
an increase in efficiency with the utilization of an RO installation (UF/NF/EDI),
the use of anti-scalants to extend the service life of membranes,
the descaling of fire tubes for optimal heat transfer inside a steam boiler,
the protection of steam boilers and pipelines against corrosion,
improved oxidation processes for the removal of biological artefacts, and
the correct dimensioning of pumps and pipelines.
Of course, being able to do all of this requires thorough training. In addition to the necessary training in steam and filtration techniques, safety and pump characteristics, I am also learning the tricks of the trade by accompanying our project engineers, analysts and mechanics on their rounds. Nothing is as informative (and collaborative) as inspecting the insides of a steam boiler for corrosion and calcium deposits through a minuscule manhole with your own eyes or installing a softener with your own hands. And, at the same time, you hear what’s going on at the companies. In that area, I notice a general lack of knowledge and a restrained attitude when it comes to water. Companies are not quick to invest in their water management, while these investments can mean a significant savings, certainly in light of rising water prices and increasingly strict environmental regulations. The return-on-investment of our installations is therefore usually better than expected initially. A pay-back time of 1 year is not exceptional and will certainly not increase in the course of coming years. After all, water is a scarce and costly commodity. In order to lower the threshold to better and less expensive water management, we also offer a free screening of the entire water treatment system to the first 10 interested parties. We do this for the purpose of arriving at an environmentally friendly and sustainable solution together with them.
In short, as an industrial Engineer – Chemistry, Ekopak offers me the ideal combination of office and field work, where there is also room for setting my own ideas down on paper so that I can make an innovative mark on the future of the company.