Corporate / SME | Interviews

DuPont Water Solutions: Addressing the Textile Industry’s Challenges Head-On

Published: December 18, 2023

DuPont Water Solutions is a global leader in providing innovative water technologies and solutions, revolutionizing the way we view and manage water resources. With a rich heritage of scientific expertise and a relentless commitment to sustainability, DuPont has become synonymous with life-changing discoveries and advancements in the field of water solutions.

Driven by a collaborative spirit, DuPont attracts a diverse team of passionate individuals who believe in making a difference. Their dedication extends beyond research and development, inspiring them to change lives through their work. It is this collective drive that has earned DuPont numerous accolades and recognition for their scientific achievements and commitment to workplace diversity.

Companies, communities, and homes around the world trust DuPont Water Solutions to help ensure the safety and accessibility of water. With an extensive portfolio of purification and separation technologies, DuPont enables industries and markets to become more efficient, enhance food nutrition, and develop effective pharmaceuticals.

DuPont’s innovation and collaboration with renowned water experts allow for the deployment of vital technologies in new, market-shaping ways. Their global network of accessible knowledge empowers individuals and organizations to harness the productivity, health, profits, and endless possibilities that stem from responsible water usage.

Chrys Fernandes, Business Head: India Subregion , DuPont Water Solutions, shared the company’s growth strategies in the textile market in a conversation with TVC MEDIA TEAM.

What is DuPont Water Solution? What is your company doing? Can you please introduce yourself & solution your company provide? 

DuPont Water Solution is in the business of purifying and treating water When water comes out of a source, it needs to be treated to a certain quality and standard, and that’s where our products are being used. We are one of the first companies or the originators of Reverse Osmosis membranes, so we invented these membranes 40 years ago, and we keep innovating and improving them. We have nearly 80 years of experience in Ion Exchange technology, and we have over 30 years of experience when it comes to Ultrafiltration. We have a complete portfolio of products, so when we approach a customer, it’s just not one product it is a range of products. We have multiple tools that address and solve the problem. When it comes to reverse osmosis, there are a range of products in the reverse osmosis space that we have; we have products starting from basic water purification products to some of the ones that can deal with seawater. So you take sea water, convert it to portable water and then supply it to municipalities. So, from an application perspective. we are in the space of municipal desalination, we are in wastewater recycling and reuse, we are in municipal water treatment and municipal wastewater treatment, and we are in commercial and institutional buildings, whether it is the wastewater coming out of commercial institutions or the water that needs to be treated to resupply to each of the residents in a commercial or institutional complex and right to the smallest home unit like home water RO purifiers of products are being used there.

How are you doing in the textile industry? I think textile is the most polluted industry, so you are giving a solution for only the textile industry?

For the textile industry, our work started nearly 10 years ago when we really sat down with the textile mill owners and tried to understand the kind of problems that plagued the industry. At that point of time, we understood that for the affluence that they needed to generate, what kind of challenges we had, and we kind of brought our products CR100 XC70 products came to address the problems at that point in time. As time went by, one of the biggest challenges they faced was that the evaporator at the end of the zero liquid discharge was the biggest cost consumer. So they came back to us and said, ‘How can you concentrate this water even further so that the amount of water that we can send to the evaporator is less?’. And that’s where we kind of developed another range of products, which is the XC 120 and XCN; the new products that we are developing is how do we reduce and recycle as much water back in the reverse osmosis phase so that the water going to the evaporator is reduced. Now, when you send water to the evaporator, what happens at the end of the day is you have salts that are getting crystallized out of the crystallizer and evaporator; that is the process at the end. These salts are mixed salts, and they really don’t know what to do with them. So, if you go to many of the textile plants or CTPs, you will see stacks of salt stacked up there, and for them, it is a headache. So we work closely with them to understand the kind of affluence they’re generating and if we can separate these Salt Solutions. 

So if we were to separate brine, which is NaCl, can it go as purified brine back to the dying process and if it’s the sulphate stream, if you can separate the chloride and sulphate, the sulphate would go as purified sulphate again, the dying process. We have looked at technology that will selectively separate the chlorides and the sulphates so that, the end salt production is reduced. So, the aqua solution goes back to its dying process. They are able to create value out of it, so rather than where salt would be dumped out now, instead of buying fresh salt, they’re getting an aqua solution back into their dying process or a sulphate stream back into their dying process. So their buying costs have reduced. That’s the way we have been engaging with the textile industry to understand how we can work to basically economize or bring circularity and value to the treatment process rather than just treat it as a process that ‘Okay, yes, I want to treat my wastewater because of pollution control’, but now they’re seeing value in it. They’re getting back water, they’re getting back Aqua NACl streams, sulphate streams, and the amount of water going to the evaporator has reduced. I know a case in one of the textile CTPs where they would operate the evaporater for 7 days. Now they evaporate for 3 days. So that’s a big cost reduction for the textile industry, and then it also helps them in the economics because now they’re more competitive.

What is the current textile market in India?

We are very active in the textile industry in India. Most of the textile units in Tirupur and, some of the larger corporates use our technology. We have actively engaged with them to help them recycle, reuse their water and bring circularity to the whole process. In corporates, there are a lot of sustainability-driven initiatives, for instance some of the large corporates have mandates to reduce their water consumption upto 50%, so it’s not just that they have to recycle and reuse because of regulations. It is their own corporate sustainability that is brought into it, so corporates are more inclined towards such initiatives. 

What about the International Market?

Yes, we actively participate in all the markets. Internationally, we are present in all major textile markets like Vietnam, Indonesia and others. You are seeing more and more international companies insisting that the end users of the textile mills have sustainability actions taken place. For example, there are many top buyers; that will not buy from you if there is no water savings in your plant or if you don’t recycle and reuse. So that enforces the initiatives even further, but I think now they’re also seeing the value in it because, it is not just about sustainability. It is also about creating value for the customers because they’re using our products. We want to make sure that they see value in each of the streams that they are able to generate out of the treatment to get there.

What is your main USP?

For us it is not just the CapEx, it is CapEx and OpExFrom a total cost perspective: we are a premium product, and because we are a premium product, our products that are more durable, which means they last longer. We get a better rejection, which means the quality of the water produced is better, lower energy consumption, so you spend less in the treatment process, lower chemical consumption, so when you add up all these things, it starts to add up as a benefit to the end to customers. This is what we offer to our customers versus what may be offered by a competitor with cheaper. We like to inform them of what we bring to the table and how the benefits will create more value for them. We also show them what kind of benefits we have been able to provide our other customers. Also, we have seen some ETPs i.e. Effluent Treatment Plants, and they’re very happy with our solutions. There is no solution that is applicable in every case, it is very important to understand what is the affluent that is coming in, and based on we customise our solutions. Suppose it is very rich in chlorides then the Solution needs to account for that. You cannot use the same product for a chloride and a sulphate stream, so you need to kind of modify your solutions to suit the customer’s needs so that the solutions are more robust. That is where we excel in creating value. 

How much has India evolved in sustainability?

In the last 12 months, we are seeing a lot of change. Earlier it may have been lip service to what was said, but now we are seeing the chief sustainability officers in place, having a team with clear metrics. They track the water being saved. Because that is being tracked and reported straight to the CEOs of the companies, others tend to then be a little more careful about it because when the CEO mandates something, and he puts somebody in charge of it, then everybody starts to fall in line. So it starts with the top, and while a lot of Indian corporates are now taking strong actions towards sustainability, we need to see a lot more of it. It still has a long way to go, I might say, but at least now it is the right direction. once the big guys start coming, I think the midsize folks will start coming, and then the small size, and it then becomes a movement, and once it becomes a movement, then every company- big or small has to follow suit or risk being an outcast.

As you say, you are a premium product, so you’re mainly catering to the corporates. What is your price range?

It varies depending on the water quality. If your water quality is not severe, you probably don’t need that level of treatment, but if your water is very severe, then it goes through a very extensive treatment process. When we position ourselves as a premium product we understand that the customers want to know why. we have a strong team here to back us up; we have a good technical team. This technical team has a lot of experience in wastewater, recycle, reuse, and desalination, so we work very closely with the customers to actually not only design and optimize the process but also to make sure that the plant is supported through good technical knowledge when it gets into operation.

Do SME’s also buy you product?

Oh yes, in fact, a lot of SMEs buy our product. It’s not that I would say the big corporates are more sensitive to price than the midsize players, and that’s because you have different metrics in large organizations which everybody needs to adhere to, but in a small organization, you talk to the owner, you explain your value to the owner, if they like it then the deal is closed. The decision-making process is very fast. You are talking to the owner for whom money matters. It’s not to a person who just has a metric to reduce costs, so that’s the thing. It’s easier to do business with an SME, and the process is faster and more efficient.

What is your market share in India?

We have a majority market share when it comes to the products, especially if you look at the advanced treatment products. No other organization has a total portfolio of products. we have iron exchange resins, we have ultrafiltration, and we have reverse osmosis. Our competition may have just RO or UF & RO, or they have an ion exchange resins; when it comes to UF, we have the complete portfolio of ultrafiltration out to in, in to out, PVDF, PS, so our portfolio has just become so big, so when it comes to actually looking at the share, it’s a little skewed because it’s just that a portfolio so so big.

What is the total market size in India?

It should be close to 150 to 180 million, maybe more than that just for these Advanced treatment products. Then, the whole water treatment industry is a few billion dollars, I would say. I mean the advanced treatment products, then there’s of cost the plant that is built around the products, so what we Supply is just the core technology. Then there is the whole plant with pumps, pipes, walls and everything, so that we may be just 10-15% of the overall cost of the plant. The rest of the plant is all the other ancillaries, vessels, tanks, piping, and instrumentation, which make up a bulk of the cost of the plant as it is still a smaller portion but a very important portion. 

What message you want to give to SME’s who are coming with sustainable products? 

To SMEs venturing into sustainable products, we commend your commitment to environmental responsibility. In our close collaboration with textile industry leaders, we’ve gained a deep understanding of the complex challenges within the market. Your dedication to providing tailored solutions for the unique wastewater needs of each customer is a strategic approach that not only aligns with evolving consumer preferences but also ensures practical and impactful outcomes. We encourage and support your efforts in driving sustainability within the industry. If there are specific challenges or opportunities you’d like to discuss further, we’re here to help.

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