How Water is Used in Industry

How Water is Used in Industry

Water is the most valuable liquid here on earth. Although highly abundant, it is valuable not because of its rarity but because of its great many functions. Vital for existence, water is also used by man for industrial and manufacturing purposes. Each product, at some stage of its production, is most likely to have passed through a process which made use of water or is made of other materials which required water for it to become what it is.

Like households, manufacturing industries make use of a good amount of water but at a much grander scale. Similar to how water used in everyday life, there are basic functions of water which industrial users cannot do without such as activation of certain materials, for sanitary purposes, for cleaning and transporting the goods being manufactured.

large water coolerIt is very much apparent what a significant role water would play in an industry concerned with manufacturing perishable goods. Perishable goods cover items such as crops, livestock, poultry, and the like. Before manufacturers come up with the end-product, their raw materials in the form of a combination of liquids for beverages, crops, and live animals would first take make use of a huge amount of water before they become fit for processing and consumption.

In farms of whatever type, water is used for the following main purposes:

Irrigation of crops

Sanitary functions

Water for animal consumption

Water for activation of fertilizers and other materials

Once these “raw” materials are fit for processing, water will be needed to clean them up, cook them, and even help in the storing process. Cooling systems which are used to preserve meats and other perishable goods make use of a lot of water!

On the other hand, there are also industries which make non-perishable items which are used for a multitude of commercial purposes. These industries include:

Metal production; for cooling of hot metals

Wood and paper production; transporting massive logs and processing pulp

The cosmetic industry

Textiles and dying industries

Plastic and glass production

Heating and cooling systems

Gasoline and oil production

Car wash services

Man-made resorts

Health care materials

Cruise liners and aquatic transportation

One of the biggest consumers of water when it comes to industrial purposes are hydroelectric plants. They make use of great reservoirs to generate hydropower which is then converted into usable electric energy.

At some point of the production of items in these industries, water is used for one or several of the following main purposes:

Cleansing

Cooling or heating

As a solvent

As an agent for transportation

Energy source

Some machinery make use of hydraulics which would not be possible without the presence of liquids such as water. These kinds of machines also rely on water to function properly and at times, are maintained in a good state by having an internal cooling system which also makes use of water. On the other hand, some machinery is run by heat and steam from hundreds of gallons of water.

Once end products are manufactured, there is a need to transport and distribute them. Water still plays a role in transportation, especially when products are transported through bodies of water. To keep perishable items in good condition along the way, they are kept in cooling systems which again, make use of water.

Water is indeed a vital liquid, not just for existence but for many other commercial uses as well. The production of many things which we make use of in our everyday lives would not be possible without water which only proves just how valuable this liquid is for mankind.

The Water Cycle – Replenishing Our Water

REPLENISHING OUR WATER

The Earth is mostly covered by the bodies of water that make up the 71% of our planet. Most people may have heard of the water cycle, but many are not fully aware of the whole process. As long as we know that we have the water to quench our thirst, to clean our body and to use in our other water consumption activities, we are happy. But learning something about the water cycle will make a difference to our understanding about our environment and resources here on earth provide for our well being via our convenient water taps.

HOW DOES THE WATER CYCLE WORK?

Water Coolers ManchesterAlso called the hydrologic cycle, the water cycle is a series of water movements in its various forms. Water moves about the earth and undergoes different transformations as it goes from the sky to the Earth and back to the sky again.

Since the whole process is circular, there’s no real identifiable starting point for where the water forms and where it disappears to. Water changes states from liquid to solid but it never really does disappear. It takes the form of rain, snow, ice, hail, vapour as it moves from one place to another like from clouds to ocean to clouds to river – the process repeats in a cycle through precipitation, evaporation, runoff and condensation.

Looking at how the water cycle works is like staring at a big circle of motions. Sun generally serves as the element that drives the water cycle. With the heat it’s giving out, water from the oceans and seas evaporates on air as vapour. The rising air takes the vapour up into the clouds together with something called evapotranspiration, or the water that transpired from plants and Earth’s soil. Cooler temperatures will then cause water vapours to float around as clouds until it falls down back to lands and oceans through precipitation, which takes the forms of either rainfalls or snow. Some precipitation falls in snow form are built up as glaciers which last for thousands of years while the snows in other places melt during the spring and summer and flows back to stream and river until it reaches again the oceans and the whole water cycle repeats itself all over.

WATER CYCLE PROCESSES:

1.  EVAPORATION – is a form of phase transformation from liquid to gas, of which takes place only on the liquid’s surface. The transformation is caused by the heating up of the liquid as result of the sun rays. It also includes evapotranspiration where water comes out from plant and soil in the form of gas.

2. CONDENSATION – as the water vapour rises up to the sky, the cooler temperature there cause the vapour to condense or be transformed to liquid on air, creating clouds and fog.  Something called advection also happens with movement of water through the atmosphere. Without advection, water would just fall back to where it evaporated (mainly in the oceans), which would mean very little rainfall on land that is used to grow crops or rear animals for our consumption.

3. PRECIPITATION – happens when the vapour that condensed falls to the ground or oceans in forms of rain, snow, or sleet. It occurs when a part of the atmosphere get saturated already with the water vapour. Some precipitation falls never reach the ground because they are intercepted by plant foliage, which will eventually evaporate back to the atmosphere.

4. RUNOFF – there are diverse ways in which water flows across the land either by surface or channel runoff. Water moves over land surfaces or may seep underground, into subterranean aquifers from which natural mineral water is extracted for our consumption or until it reaches the ocean after breaking the surface and flowing into streams and rivers.

Image Credit – http://www.exploringnature.org/db/detail.php?dbID=27&detID=1188