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Business

Mitsubishi Chemical to market drinking water systems in Myanmar

Along with filtration facilities, company eyes water quality testing

Hollow filter membranes eliminate turbidity from Yangon River water. Depending on the water quality, flocculants may be used for more efficient filtration.

YANGON -- Japan's Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings will begin selling a river water treatment system to the private and public sectors in Myanmar, where economic growth is expected to drive demand for safe drinking water.

Tokyo-based Wellthy, a Mitsubishi Chemical's unit in the water treatment business, will establish a joint venture with its local partner Myanmar Water Engineering & Products with Wellthy taking a 60% stake.

By joining hands with MWEP, which has a good domestic track record in the water treatment business, Wellthy aims to smoothly launch their business operations and negotiations with the Myanmar government officials.

The companies will embark on the so-called EPC business, which designs plants, procures materials and builds under a contract. Wellthy has an advantage of being able to freely adjust treatment processes and devices that will be incorporated into a system according to the quality of drinking water and water sources.

Myanmar is the third country for the Wellthy's overseas water treatment-related business, followed by Kenya and Vietnam.

In Myanmar, the companies will use the Yangon River which runs near the city as the water source. The river water will be filtered through hollow fiber membranes for purification and then passed through reverse osmosis membranes for desalination.

As the city has rainy and dry periods, the water quality in the Yangon River, which flows into the Andaman Sea, varies with the season.

A reverse osmosis membrane removes salts. As the nearby seawater mixes with Yangon River water, it tends to become brackish.

Through the previous experiments, Wellthy has obtained know-how needed to deal with water quality variations such as by adding flocculants, which improve filterability, when the water contains a high level of sediment and pollutants as a pre-treatment step.

As first step, the companies envision providing the system to luxury apartments built along the river.

They are advancing talks with the owner about a system that can supply 5,400 tons of drinking water a day -- enough to serve 27,000 residents -- at a group of apartments currently under construction.

In addition to water treatment for private facilities, the companies will push public water suppliers to adopt the technology.

On the back of the potential rising demand for safe drinking water in the country, the companies also plan to accept requests for water quality inspection from companies and other users of water services and privately owned clean water systems.

The aim is to rack up 500 million yen ($4.43 million) in sales by 2020 in Myanmar.

In Japan, Wellthy markets a system that improves deep well water quality to a level on a par with regular tap water.

It has introduced the system at a total of 1,200 locations such as factories and hotels.

Mitsubishi Chemical is trying to expand its services, which contribute to safety and comfort. Its water treatment-related businesses in developing and emerging countries are among them.

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