Water, the most abundant compound on earth, is used by many industries. When you use computers, wear cotton shirts, drink beverages you are actually consuming water. The industries which are most water thirsty are listed below. In terms of direct water usage, agriculture and power-generation industries top the list, which together are responsible for 90 percent of direct water withdrawals.
Agriculture is the major water consumer of all the industries. For India more than 90% fresh water usage is in agriculture industry.
The room for improvement in water usage efficiency is also in this industry. Using modern techniques like sprinter irrigation, drip irrigation etc can help to make use of water efficiently. In developing countries huge amount of water can be saved by simple improvements in the method of irrigation.
2. Power generation
Generation of electricity is another bigg consumer of water. Ultimately, it takes a staggering 95 liters of water to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to Tamim Younos, research professor of water resources at Virginia Tech.
Pumping oil, cooling the power plant, removing pollutants from power plant exhaust, generating steam to run turbines, and washing away residue after fossil fuels are burned all involve water usage.
All sources of power generation are not equal in water consumption efficiency. For example natural gas is the most efficient source of energy in terms of water consumption.
3. Food processing
Huge water is used to wash and rinse fruits, vegetables and meat. Food processing industry uses water to
1. Wash raw food,
2. washing after steaming/peeling/ size reducing,
5. Sanitation and plant cleaning
Half of the water used in the fruit and vegetable sector is for washing and rinsing
4. Textile and garment industry
Textile and garment industry is very water intensive. Most of the water used is in wet processing and dyeing fabrics. The textile industry uses 100 liter of water to process only 1 kg of textile fabrics.
5. Meat production
According to a study by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education, conducted between 1996 and 2005, “29 percent of the total water footprint of the agricultural sector in the world is related to the production of animal products.”
It takes more than 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef
6. Semiconductor manufacturing
Semiconductor Manufacturing Plants can use as much water as a small city. These plants use water in washing the silicon wafers with ultra pure water. One manufacturing plant uses anywhere between 2 to 4 million gallons of very, very pure water— ultrapure water—per day, and that is roughly equivalent to the water usage of a city of around 40,000 people.
Ultrapure water is a term in the semiconductor industry to emphasize the fact that the water is treated to the highest levels of purity for all contaminant types, including: organic and inorganic compounds; dissolved and particulate matter; volatile and non-volatile, reactive and inert; hydrophilic and hydrophobic; and dissolved gases.