On Friday the 29 of July, Flo-Bro visited Liquid Purification Engineering International Co., Ltd. (LPE), Thailand’s leading supplier of membrane separation processes. The company is located in Nonthaburi, a city situated about 20 km north-west from the touristic center of Bangkok. LPE was established 25 years ago by Mr Prapan Ariyamethee and has grown into a well-renown business employing 130 people, exclusively of Thai origin as we found out. When we arrived into the main office building, we took off our shoes and placed them into the rack next to the shoes of other visitors and employees. It is customary in Thailand to take the shoes off when you enter a house or a temple, but I did not expect it to be the case for an office building. It is certainly very pleasant and undoubtedly healthier than wearing closed shoes for the whole day, especially in the local warm climate. We were given a tour of the company by Ms. Mantaka Thuanthong. She has shown us the workplace, where the assembly of the installations takes place as well as the “Membrane Health Centre”- a facility, where membranes from the clients are cleaned and repaired to extend their lifespan and maintain performance. The company also boasts a membrane museum, library, membrane knowledge center and a sport facility for the employees.

membrane health center

The Membrane Health center of the LPE. There are many trees planted on the company terrain.

After the tour, we sat down with a number of LPE’s experts Ms. Aporn Laorko and Mr. Pornsak Thamvechvitee to discuss how the Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor could fit into the Thai market as a way of decentralized waste water treatment, and presented our vision. We have also learned, how the current El Niño impacts Thailand, which has been suffering from a lack of rain over the past two years. This increases the pressure on water saving and re-using activities, where membranes will play an important role.  As we have understood, LPE is currently starting the development of own side-stream MBR technology. Mr Prapan explained that whilst everyone wants to have clean water, MBRs are often too expensive to be implemented in local conditions. The cost of membranes is a reason that discourages customers. That is why he often prefers to offer his customers a “hybrid system” which helps reduce the necessary membrane area. Later on we also explained how the Helix flux enhancement technology from X-Flow can help increase the flux in MBR application and thus positively impact the cost for the customer and how implementation of a standardized design would bring the cost down significantly as well.

From the left: Mantaka Thuanthong , Prapan Ariyamethee, Radek Oborný and Robin Rijnbeek.

After the meeting, Mantaka showed us around the local market, where we could taste local specialities. We had a delicious meal of chicken claws in a spicy sauce. As opposed to the center of Bangkok, here we were the only “Farang” (the Thai term for “Europeans”). In order to find our way around, Mantaka taught us some useful phrases.  Our tour continued by visiting the enormous shopping mall “Westgate” which opened last year. Our taste buds were pleased once again in one of the food courts.

Mantaka laughing at Robin eating a chicken claw at the Nonthamburi market.

In summary, it was a great day full of fruitful discussions, good advice about the water market and tasty food. We would like to thank Mr. Prapan and his colleagues from LPE for dedicating us their time and sharing their expertise. We wish LPE much success and hope to meet again in the near future.