After a two-year construction period, the first clean water flowed from the Tocopilla Desalination plant in May 2019. PENETRON ADMIX was specified over a competitive crystalline admixture as a superior performing waterproofing solution for the concrete water tanks.
Part of the Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), a Colombian conglomerate with holdings in the water and sanitation industry, the Aguas de Antofagasta (ADASA) is a Latin American leader in water desalination. In operation since 2003, ADASA currently provides clean water to 546,000 inhabitants in seven Chilean towns. In total, the company treats 2.11 m3 (560 gallons) of water per second, with about 30% originating from seawater. For this purpose, it has desalination plants in Taltal and Antofagasta, the latter considered the largest water desalination plant in Latin America, with a production of 600 liters (160 gallons) per second.
The company’s newest desalination plant is located in the "Caleta Vieja" sector of Tocopilla, a city of about 25,000 inhabitants in Northern Chile. This region is dominated by the Atacama Desert, one of the driest climates in the world. The towns on the Pacific Coast, like Tocopilla, enjoy an extremely sunny climate, with only occasional showers.
The new, US$26 million desalination plant in Tocopilla uses reverse osmosis technology, a water purification method based on a semipermeable membrane to remove ions, molecules and larger particles from drinking water. The initial production capacity of the plant will be 75 liters (almost 20 gallons) per second, or about 6,480 m3 (1,712,000 gallons) of water every day. The plant design has a capacity of 100 liters per second (about 26 gallons) or 8,640 m3 (2,283,000 gallons) per day. Once the desalination process is fully ramped up this year, the plant will provide 100% of the drinking water needed by the community.
Before construction of the Tocopilla project began in October 2017, Penetron Chile was asked to discuss an alternate solution to a competitive crystalline admixture that was originally specified to create permanently waterproof concrete.
“My team’s presentation to the construction company showed how our product would provide a more efficient waterproofing solution – at a lower cost and with a greater guarantee of permeability-reduction and sealing of hairline cracks throughout the useful life of the concrete,” explains Domingo Lema, Director of Penetron Chile. “The data from previous projects backed us up, and the contractor approved PENETRON ADMIX for Tocopilla.”
PENETRON ADMIX was mixed into the concrete for the walls and foundation slabs of the desalination plant’s massive water storage tanks. Because Penetron crystalline products are non-toxic and contain no VOCs, PENETRON ADMIX is NSF 61-certified for potable water applications like the Tocopilla project. Penetron also meets all main manufacturing and environmental compliance certifications, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, DWI, Singapore Green Label, CE mark and GB-18445.
“As a permeability reducing admixture for hydrostatic conditions, PENETRON ADMIX provides self-healing capabilities for hairline cracks, enhances the compressive strength of concrete, and resists high hydrostatic pressure,” adds Domingo Lema. “Tests have shown that our admixture can extend the service life of concrete structures by 60 years or more, even in severe environments.”