Government grants aid water management

Projects aimed at reducing water consumption in manufacturing are among recipients of funding under the latest round of the Federal Government's Re-tooling for Climate Change program.

Projects aimed at reducing water consumption in manufacturing are among recipients of funding under the latest round of the Federal Government’s Re-tooling for Climate Change program.

The program offers dollar for dollar grants from $10,000 to $500,000 to help small and medium manufacturers reduce the environmental impact of their production processes.

In the town of Burra, about 160km north east of Adelaide, Adchem (Australia) operates the world’s largest single production facility for Cupic Oxide and Basic Cupic Carbonate. The company, which employs 49 people, utilises a hydrometallurgical process to convert copper raw materials to high quality chemical products.

These products are then sold to customers in some 20 countries where they are generally used as inputs to further chemical manufacture. End use applications include timber preservation, agriculture, automotive, electronic, metal treatment and paint production.

Adchem’s GM technology and development, Simon Kibble, says the government grant of $550,000 received for the installation of a two-stage reverse osmosis plant will enable a substantial reduction in the company’s environmental footprint.

“Recycling of waste process water is expected to result in a 55% reduction in the use of mains water, and improvement in the efficiency of steam generation should result in a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions,” Kibble told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“Adchem spent around $100,000 in 2008 to have a trial reverse osmosis plant at the site for a period of four months to test the suitability of that technology for treating both mine pool and waste process water.

“The success of the trial has led to the commitment of $2.45m for the installation of a permanent reverse osmosis wastewater treatment plant that is expected to be operational by mid 2010.

“Once fully operational, the plant will treat waste process water streams and generate up to 500,000L per day of high quality water that will be used in boilers, cooling towers and general process needs. The higher purity of water used by the boilers will improve their efficiency and reduce the amount of gas consumed.”

Kibble also pointed to other benefits of the project including elimination of the current discharge method for copper oxide plant barrens and reuse of that waste stream as input to the reverse osmosis plant.

In addition, the amount of treated Murray River water purchased and the amount of mine pool water consumed should reduce by around 55% and 70% respectively.

“Overall, there will be a 90% reduction in wastewater generated by the operation,” he said.

Animal health products

Sydney-based company Autopak-Vetlab, who manufactures a range of animal health products, as well as chemicals for use in agriculture, and other products for high value, low volume, speciality chemical markets, also recently received a grant as part of the government program.

The company received a grant of $69,960 for a project aimed at reducing water and energy consumption by replacing an existing water purification plant with a reverse osmosis plus electrodeionisation system.

According to consultant Andrew Gunst, who is involved in developing the project, water use will be reduced by some 43% (1.3mL) and electricity by 75% (4.7MWh).

“Purified water is a ‘stay in business’ requirement in a veterinary manufacturing operation. The new technology uses two purification processes in sequence: reverse osmosis followed by electrodeionisation.

“The process before and after the purification unit (pre-treatment, holding, loop circulation, and so on) remains essentially unchanged,” Gunst explained.

“The existing water purification unit has older technology membranes which reject more water for each litre of purified water produced, and consume more electrical energy, and hence emit a greater quantity of greenhouse gases.”

Green envelopes

Wigg & Son, based in Thebarton, South Australia, produces a wide variety of envelopes including a new product range branded Eco-Envelopes made from 100% waste paper. It recently received a $109,890 grant.

Manufacturing manager, David Sampson, says the company is committed to minimising its environmental impact and has identified areas where tangible improvements can be made through implementing new processes.

“For example, as part of our zero waste to landfill strategy, all waste generated during manufacturing is vacuumed directly from the machine into recycling containers, and efforts are made to minimise any ‘cut-off’ waste in the purchasing of custom selected paper sizes,” Sampson said.

“Action is also being taken to reduce water consumption. With assistance of the Government grant, a project is underway to remove water cooled vacuum pumps and replace them with a dry pump system.

“Vacuum pumps are used to blow or suck paper through the production process. The new dry pumps are expected to save 900,000L of water per annum, and their more energy efficient motors will also save some 35% of running power. Other water saving initiatives include installation of water efficient taps, toilets and showers.”