An AkzoNobel paint factory in the UK has engineered a system that captures up to 450,000 gallons of rainwater each year, slashing the factory’s water usage.
Engineers at AkzoNobel’s factory in Prudhoe are harvesting rainwater for paint production as part of the company’s operational Eco-Efficiency program.
The project, launched in March, enables AkzoNobel to harvest up to 1.7 million liters of rainwater per year, potentially cutting the factory’s annual water usage in half.
|A sump pump box collects rainwater and transfers it to a holding tank at AkzoNobel’s Prudhoe plant.|
The program not only saves money on water; it speeds water supplies to the production line more than 20-fold. Up to 500 liters of water per minute can be supplied, due to higher water pressure and on-site storage, the company says.
Drip Inspires a Dream
The idea came to AkzoNobel engineer Steven Hawes when he noticed water coming out of a broken downpipe during a light shower and realized how much was landing on the factory’s roofs, he told Environment Times.
|The system will pay for itself in the first year, said its inventor, engineer Steven Hawes.|
“We took the opportunity to look at harvesting rainwater while reviewing the best ways of increasing efficiency in our production process,” said Hawes. “We are delighted with the results of the program, we have significantly reduced our production footprint, and the initiative will pay for itself in just one year.”
The factory expects to save £10,000—about $16,250—on its water bill in the first year, recouping the project’s cost.
The system generates Batch Cycle Time savings of 50 percent on some production lines of Cuprinol, an ICI line of wood care preservation, coatings and treatments, the company says.
How it Works
Two on-site holding tanks collect rainwater from sump pump units situated at the bottom of four key downpipes from the main factory roof.
The tank levels are maintained by a domestic water-fed safety stock, which can be used in dry periods to ensure consistent water availability for production.
When any water outlet is operated, the pumping station senses the drop in system pressure and starts the pump.
The harvested rainwater is pumped through a 5 micron filter and an ultra-violet sterilization unit so that the water used has zero “bugs.”
AkzoNobel says it could roll out the program to additional locations if rainwater capture points can be identified and achievable water volumes are viable.