Redesigned water system doubles ROI
When Orb Electrical Steels, a leading manufacturer of specialty steels based in Newport, South Wales, sought to reduce its water footprint, the company didn’t imagine it would also nearly double its return on investment. In operation for more than a century, Orb Electrical Steels had traditionally used Newport’s water for cooling and cleaning at the steel-making plant, amounting to 40 percent of the site’s water usage. The water was used only once before being discharged into nearby River Usk.
To achieve its water saving goals, the company sought the expertise and experience of GE Water & Process Technologies. GE and Orb Electrical Steels decided to redesign the entire water management system with a focus on water reuse and conservation. Rainwater-capturing capabilities were added to the system to supplement the supply of available water. And since cost reduction was a major goal for the project, blowdown from cooling towers was captured, blended with rainwater and reused for rinsing steel — a far more cost-effective method compared to purchasing potable water. By conserving water, the project also addressed the issue of water scarcity due to occasional droughts in the area.
Through this project, Orb Electrical Steels reduced its annual water usage by nearly 60 million gallons and its annual operating costs by approximately £300,000. The project played a key role in enabling the company to support a corporate sustainability program that calls for reduced water consumption.
For its efforts in implementing a more efficient, cost-effective water management system, Orb Electrical Steels received a GE ecomagination Leadership Award. The success of the initial project has also resulted in another opportunity to treat and reuse 210,000 gallons per day at the site’s water effluent plant. The treated water from this new project will be reused on site to further reduce fresh water needs.