Left untreated incoming water can wreak havoc on manufacturing processes. That’s why improving incoming water by removing total dissolved solids (TDS), minerals, chlorine, total suspended solids (TSS), and other contaminants can be helpful to your manufacturing processes.

There are as many uses of water in industry as there are manufacturing sites and, in most cases, the incoming water to the industrial facility needs treatment before it can be properly utilized. Whether it is drinking water quality from a publicly owned water company or from one’s own wells, the levels of some parameters in the water (for example, iron, nickel, total dissolved solids or hardness) may require treatment before it can be used. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), water is used in industry for fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or even transporting a product. Smelting facilities, petroleum refineries, chemical products manufacturers, food and paper products manufacturers all utilize water in their processes.

Would it surprise you to learn that it can take as much as 39,000 gallons to manufacture just one automobile? Think about how much water is used just in washing and rinsing parts before painting. And salts or other dissolved solids in the water could cause spotting or worse – non-adhesion of paint and coatings.

Incoming water treatment systems are designed around each customer’s water requirements. Hence, the treatment goals for each industrial facility will be different, based on the parameters of the water stream, also known as stream characterization. In simple terms, is there something in the water that can cause a problem and what does it take to remove it from the water? An example of this would be hardness. Another would be suspended solids. Biological contamination may also be a concern. Here are a couple of practical situations.

Rinse Water. Just because water is potable does not mean it is acceptable for your industrial process. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is measured in milligrams per unit volume of water as mg/l [also referred to as parts per million (ppm)]. For drinking water, the maximum concentration level set by EPA is 500 mg/L. Average tap water ranges anywhere from 140-400 mg/l TDS. If your rinse water has this level of TDS, it will leave spots when it dries. A level of 5 mg/l will not leave spots. So, what’s in your water?

Paint Booth Water. As important as all the factors involved in good paint spray booth management are, the spray booth water chemistry is crucial to achieving an excellent quality outcome. Here are four of the crucial parameters in evaluating the water.

  • pH – is the measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Paint conditioning polymers will perform at their optimum level when the pH is maintained within a prescribed range. pH outside the optimum range can result in loss of paint application quality, an increase in suspended solids, or potentially increased foaming.
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – is a measure of the content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid in molecular or ionized form, such as minerals, salts, or metals. Depending on their form and quantities, dissolved solids can interfere with the charge neutralization that is used in paint. The impact of higher total dissolved solids can result in higher suspended solids, paint deposition, wetter sludge and increased potential for foaming.
  • Conductivity – is the measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current – and is affected by the presence of inorganic dissolved solids such as chlorides, nitrate, sodium, calcium, magnesium, etc. Organic compounds like oil, phenol, alcohol do no conduct electrical current very well & therefore have a low conductivity when in water. Conductivity is affected by temperature – the warmer the water, the higher the conductivity. Although every paint booth system is different, in general, high conductivity in the booth water can have the same impact as high dissolved solids – since the two are directly related. High conductivity can also increase the potential for corrosion of metal surfaces in the system.
  • TSS or Total Suspended Solids – are small solid particles which remain suspended in an aqueous solution. High levels of suspended solids can lead to settling in undesired locations leading to less paint sludge being removed by the sludge processing equipment. High suspended solids can also trigger higher levels of foam.

Whether your incoming water needs removal of large objects, clarification, disinfection, softening, sulfate removal, membrane filtration, reverse osmosis or vacuum evaporation, PRAB has the capability to provide you with a cost-effective solution.

PRAB offers a wide selection of solutions to combat poor incoming water, including:


To learn more about how PRAB Water and Wastewater Solutions can benefit your operation contact us today. Or, if you know your options and would like a quote from a product specialist click here.

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