Things to Consider When Investing In a Vehicle Wash Water Recycling System
By John Gibney
Types of Water Systems in the Vehicle Wash Industry:
This system utilizes three or more settling tanks to settle out most of the solids via gravity. From the last stage of the settling tanks water is pumped back to the wash equipment for re-use. The water this system delivers contains suspended solids and all the chemicals used in previous washes. In warmer weather, when this water is re-used, it will contain an odour – a rotten egg smell that is a gas given off by the natural, anaerobic microbes in this water.
In a reclaim system the wastewater is sent through a series of settling tanks like the re-use system to settle out the heavy solids using gravity. When the water is pumped out of the last settling tank the water is processed through some form of filtration or cyclonic separation to further reduce the solids to a micron level. This water is then treated with ozone, UV, zinc, or copper oxide to kill the natural microbes in hopes that the water won’t smell when re-used. The water coming from a reclaim system still contains most of the chemicals used in previous washes. Used chemicals are not removed in a reclaim system so there are limitations as to where this water can be successfully re-used in the wash. The majority of the water system brands in the vehicle wash industry manufacture systems within this category.
A water restoration system utilizes the same settling tanks as the re-use and reclaim systems. When the water is pumped from the last settling tank, it’s sent through hydro cyclones which cyclonically separate any remaining solids down to five micron. The wastewater is aerated, which creates an environment where aerobic microbes are present. Aerobic microbes are 90 per cent more aggressive in consuming chemical waste in the water. When aerobic microbes consume waste in the water they give off a CO2 gas, which has no smell so odour is never an issue when the water is reused. In the last step in a restoration system, the wastewater is sent through a biologic chamber where active, aerobic microbes are grown to consume the chemicals in the water. With the chemicals removed, the water has been restored and can be re-used in all functions in the wash, with the exception of spot free rinse water. One hundred per cent of the water captured into this system can be re-used.
Restored Spot Free
As technology has advanced, a new system has emerged that takes the restoration system one step further. A restored spot free system takes water from a full restoration system, processes it further then sends that water to a reverse osmosis system to produce spot free rinse water. This system now gives the operator the ability to use biologically restored water in all the stages of a wash.