Sustainable Industry

Aquapolo is a leader in the reused water market in South America

Since its inception in 2012, the company has supplied 100 million cubic meters of treated water to the industry

Water is a fundamental resource to support life on planet Earth, required in countless activities, including crop irrigation, public supply, industrial operations, and energy generation. However, it is finite and limited, which makes it essential to use it responsibly and without waste.

In 2009, based on a request from the Capuava Petrochemical Complex, in the municipality of Mauá (SP), planning on the Aquapolo project began in collaboration with the São Paulo State Sanitation Company (Sabesp). The goal was to supply the Complex with reused water from sewage initially treated by the sanitation company.

“The demand for water by the Capuava Petrochemical Complex was quite significant, and it was difficult to source water. The water was extracted from the Tramandaí River, which is increasingly polluted. Companies incurred high costs to treat this water and, during the dry seasons (fall and winter), the river flow would decrease, and industrial companies risked running out of water. The point is: you cannot operate if you run out of water. This is when the project emerged,” said Márcio da Silva Jose, the CEO of Aquapolo.

Aquapolo has the capacity to produce up to one thousand liters of reused water per second, using cutting edge technological processes for the treatment of water and effluents. In addition to the Capuava Petrochemical Complex, Aquapolo currently supplies reuse water to other industrial companies in the ABC Paulista region.

Treated water – Aquapolo is located within the ABC sewage treatment plant, in Heliópolis. Aquapolo buys part of the sewage treated with primary and secondary methods by the São Paulo utility and follows up on the treatment so that this water reaches a level that is close to drinking water, i.e., crystal clear with no smell or taste.

Aquapolo processes 100% of the water from treated effluents, and nothing is returned to nature. “Achieving the desired quality involves some losses throughout the process, but nothing is thrown away. The losses end up returning to Sabesp’s station and are diluted in the sewage that will subsequently be treated by it,” says Márcio.

The treated water is delivered to the Petrochemical Complex through a dedicated pipeline that is 17 kilometers long. Ten plants belonging to four customers within the complex benefit from this water and, along the pipeline route outside the complex, four more companies receive treated water.

The pipeline starts in the headquarters in São Paulo and goes through the municipalities of São Caetano do Sul and Santo André. It then reaches a distribution tower in Capuava, municipality of Mauá, where the Capuava Petrochemical Complex is based. From there, a 3.6 km distribution network delivers water to the various customers of the complex. The pipeline was designed to accommodate derivations in order to be able to service potential customers along the way.

Figures – From the beginning of operations in 2012 until January 2022, Aquapolo reached the mark of 100 million cubic meters supplied, which means 1 million cubic meters per month, give or take, which is equivalent to a flow of about 470 liters per second. Aquapolo works at 50% of its capacity and is planning to expand its operations in the future.

According to the CEO Márcio da Silva Jose, this flow would have been enough over the years to supply a city with around 400,000 inhabitants. At the Petrochemical Complex alone, 97% of the water used in its operations comes from Aquapolo, which is considered a leader in the production of reused water in South America.

Social action – Before the pandemic, the company conducted several programs around Heliópolis and Santo André, including theater plays in partnership with the Education Department, on the rational use of water, reuse, and ways to avoid pollution. The plays were attended by more than 5,000 children. Aquapolo also carried out one-off diagnostic programs in the area around the plant in order to understand local requirements and support the community accordingly. “We intend to resume educational activities once the pandemic is over,” said Marcio.