Covestro and partners from industry and academia are looking to develop methods to recover salt and water from industrial wastewater.

The Leverkusen, Germany-based materials manufacturer is heading a research project that aims to use the treated salt and purified wastewater in electrolysis processes to produce chlorine.

Many industrial processes produce substantial amounts of wastewater with high salt concentrations, Covestro noted, which represents a serious pollutant if it finds its way into bodies of water, particularly rivers and lakes used for potable water treatment.

“A key objective of this project is to increase the salt content of the salt solutions as much as possible in an environmentally friendly manner during the treatment process,” said project coordinator Yuliya Schiesser, a process researcher at Covestro.

This will be done in part using the waste heat from the adjacent production plants.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop a process that benefits not just the plastics industry but other industry segments, as well,” Schiesser said.

Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Its business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in sectors such as textiles, apparel, footwear, automotive, electrical and electronics, and construction.

Covestro is planning a demonstration plant for testing purposes at its Krefeld-Uerdingen site in Germany. In early 2016, the company brought a pilot plant on stream there that uses a recycling process developed in-house to purify salt-laden process wastewater so that it can be reused for the production of chlorine, a key raw material for the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics.

This technology is the basis for the new joint project “Re-Salt,” or recycling of salt-laden industrial process water. Project participants also include the German Water Center, Donau Carbon GmbH, the University of Duisburg-Essen, Dechema-Forschungsinstitut, EnviroChemie GmbH and TH Köln — University of Applied Sciences.

Re-Salt is scheduled to run for three years and is funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research as part of the WavE funding measure.

This week, Downlite, a major down and feather processor and supplier of responsibly sourced performance fills to the outdoor, home furnishings and hospitality markets, unveiled its new wastewater recovery system. The system allows Downlite to recycle and reuse up to 99 percent of the water used to clean and sanitize its down and feather fills, saving up to 40 million gallons of water annually.

With 2015 sales of 12.1 billion euros, or $12.82 billion, Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the world.