Alfa Laval Brazil leads the way with sustainable water initiatives
As the global focus on water as a scarce and valuable resource continues to intensify, companies around the world are increasing their efforts to implement water-saving measures in industrial production.DATE 2023-11-28
Alfa Laval is one of those leading the way in the drive for sustainable water use in its manufacturing and service operations. At its production site in Brazil, 100% of the water used operationally is now being reused and zero water is drawn from the public supply following the successful implementation of a series of water-capture and recycling initiatives.
Spearheaded by Factory Manager Filipe Oliveira, the first of these initiatives was launched in 2008 when a decision was made to return the water used in heat-exchanger hydrotesting (to ensure strength and resistance to leaks) to a collection tank for reuse rather than sending it down the drain.
“We now have a rainwater storage capacity of 42m2, which is enough for three months’ worth of testing so with the amount of rain we get in Brazil, we can use rainwater for the whole year,” Filipe explains. “We also test separators and pumps here and there is enough water to carry out all these tests too.”
The next step, in 2015, saw the construction of a 128m deep well in the grounds of the factory site, which has slashed the annual water bill while also further boosting overall water security; so that today, no water at all is drawn from the public supply.
This was subsequently followed by the installation in 2018 of more collection tanks and extensive rainwater harvesting from the São Paulo factory’s 6,000m2 roof.
“We are now capturing all the water we need on site through rainwater harvesting or our onsite well,” Filipe says. “We only have to pay disposal costs now, which has reduced the water bill by 50%.”
Filipe then turned his attention to the on-site service centre where plates come in for cleaning and maintenance. Previously, fresh mains water was used to clean the plates following treatment in an acid bath but in 2021, a tank with a capacity of 35m2 was installed to collect the wastewater for treatment and reuse.
“To clean these plates, we sometimes use 32m2 in one go, so right from the beginning, reusing the treated water was a huge economy in terms of water consumption. In fact all our additional water reuse and recycling initiatives have reduced our overall water usage by around 100m2 a month.”
Today all the water used for testing and cleaning, not just plate heat exchangers, but high speed separators and decanters as well, is either immediately re-circulated for reuse or first undergoes a treatment process prior to being recycled and reused; and this process can be repeated multiple times.
For Filipe and his colleagues in São Paulo, it was a case of starting small and building on the success of each initiative with the importance of saving water as the primary focus throughout.
“We have taken a stepwise approach,” he says. “We started with one small initiative and have built on this over the years to get where we are today. The initiatives did not cost a lot of money but they have made a big difference. We have cut our consumption and what we do consume we reuse over and over again. The main driver is our commitment to sustainability and our water bill is also lower; so overall it’s a win-win!”
Alfa Laval in São Paolo, Brazil
We have cut our consumption and what we do consume we reuse over and over again. The main driver is our commitment to sustainability and our water bill is also lower; so overall it’s a win-win!
Filipe Oliveira, Factory Manager, Alfa Laval Brazil
- Average consumption in 2014 – 404 m3
- Average consumption in 2022 – 328 m3
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Alfa Laval enables corporate water stewardship for a wide range of industries. With solutions and competences accumulated over many decades and industries, Alfa Laval empowers industrial plants to optimize their water footprint by focusing on water conservation, wastewater treatment, water reuse and the establishment of circular water systems.