A new chemical process that allows overspray sediment to float, rather than sink, has cut waste in a heavy equipment paint shop by nearly 90%, the company reports.
Hitachi Construction Machinery – Europe (HCME) has implemented what it believes is the first process of its kind to reduce chemical waste generated during the painting process at its factory in Amsterdam.
|Hitachi Construction Machinery – Europe expects the new process to eliminate about 230 tons of factory paint waste this year—an 88 percent reduction.|
The process is expected to save about €60,000 (about $94,000 US) a year in labor, energy and disposal costs, the company says.
Sink or Swim
Hitachi’s former process used a classic sinking system, in which the overspray would sink or form sediment at the bottom of a pool of water beneath the paint facility. The process produced about 260 tons of paint waste per year.
Twice a year, workers had to clean the pool and remove the paint and water—a “difficult and dirty” job that was also time-consuming and costly, said HCME Production Engineering Manager Robin Huijsman, who is also Compliance Officer for Environmental Regulation.
The new process, developed in cooperation with UK-based Advantage Chemicals Ltd., combines real-time CoAg (coagulation) systems with wastewater treatment systems. Instead of sinking, the paint is suspended in the water and pumped to a waste treatment tank.
“For this tank, we asked Advantage Chemicals to develop a chemical that is able to remove the paint by making it float,” said Huijsman. “The floating paint sludge is then skimmed off the top of the tank.”
Cost, Health Benefits
The new process, which began in December 2011, is expected to generate just 30 tons of waste per year.
“We are delighted with the results of the new process,” said Huijsman. “With the new system, we are able to remove the overspray paint from the water and reuse the water. Thanks to the new system, the facility is cleaner, and the filtering system that removes paint particles from the air functions better.”
He added: “The reduction in chemical waste is one of our key environmental objectives and has improved the overall carbon footprint of the HCME factory in Amsterdam.
“In addition to cost benefits, there are health benefits, too, with less solvents being released into the factory air and less dust.”