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China to use radiation to treat textile industry effluent

China inaugurated its first facility that uses electron beams to treat industrial wastewater, ushering in a new era for radiation technology in the world's leading textile producer.

Textile dyeing accounts for a fifth of all industrial wastewater pollution generated worldwide. While several industrial countries have used radiation to treat some of the effluent from textile dyeing plants, with the relocation of much of the industry to developing countries in Asia in recent years, a lot of the wastewater goes untreated.

The new plant in Jinhua city, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, will treat 1500 cubic meters of wastewater per day, around a sixth of the plant’s output. “If everything goes smoothly, we will be able to roll out the technology to the rest of the plant and eventually to other plants across the country,” Wang said.

By irradiating the effluent using electron beams, scientists can break these complex chemicals into smaller molecules, which, in turn, can be treated and removed using normal biological processes. Irradiation is done using short-lived reactive radicals than can interact with a wide range of pollutants and break them down.

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