Steel Plant saves £1000s by Reusing Process Water [read more]

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Reusing process water can save you £1000s


Having literally stumbled across how significant their water consumption was costing them, a specialist steel wire plant, based in the North West, has seen a significant return on investment following Industrial Purification Systems (IPS) having installed water filtration technology which has enabled the plant to reuse its process water. Steve Cupples, managing director of IPS discusses the problem and the solution.

"The plant, which manufactures steel saw and continuous blades used worldwide by a huge range of industries, has for many years used water as an essential method for cooling and lubricating during its manufacturing process.

"Being acutely environmentally aware, the company acknowledged that there was an increasing pressure on industry to reduce its carbon impact and has been continually looking at means by which the company can reduce its energy consumption.

"In common with many industries, the use of water had not immediately been identified as something that was significantly impacting on the plants energy costs. However, during one of its evaluation reviews it became aware of its water consumption and associated costs.

"Having undertaken an energy audit, the cost of water was seen to be of some significance despite the plant believing that it was not a large user of water. This belief was based on the fact that it thought the water being used was ‘cheap' as firstly it was sourced from a largely untreated local reservoir, and secondly only 18,000 litres per hour was being used. However, the production lines were running for at least 100 hour per week which effectively meant over 657,000,000 litres of water was being used ever year, all of which was then literally going straight down the drain.

"The plant found this to be a truly shocking figure in itself. But when it was realised that this related to water charges the true cost really hit home. The direct cost of using this volume of water was over £100,000 every year and rising with the increased effluent costs. If the plant had been using mains water this cost would have been even higher.

"The obvious solution was to reuse the water. On investigation it was found that this would be possible but in order for the reused water to be effective its temperature had to be lowered, so the first step was to install ambient cooling towers. This was quickly done and the company sat back waiting for the great savings which unfortunately didn't materialise - for one simple but costly reason.

"In the plants manufacturing process it used graphite powder. This helped to both lubricate the wire during the extrusion and profiling process and to also assist in the hardening of the steel to make it suitable for the end products. After only a short time of reusing the process water it was found that the graphite powder had blocked up the heat exchanger, so much so that it failed and had to be replaced at significant cost.
"When the blockage was evaluated it was found to be caused by agglomerated graphite, and it was clear that this needed to be removed from the water if water reuse was to be effective. At this point we were introduced to the company and we quickly came up with a proposal which didn't involve the introduction of chemicals into the water. This was felt to be an important factor as the plant didn't want to chemically alter the water as this could have caused process problems further down the line.

"We proposed the use of a SpinClean self cleaning disc filter system to handle the 18,000 liters of water each hour. This proposal included a system to enable the recovery of the backwash water which was used to clean the actual filter itself. In effect what had been achieved was a totally closed system with only a minimal amount of fresh water input to make up for water losses due to evaporation and or spillage.

"The system was very compact and was easily accommodated into the plant within one week with us controlling the design, the product components and the installation of the complete system. It protected the heat exchanger which enabled the process to reuse and recover all process water. The resultant dirt was deposited as waste paper in the form of a paper roll which could easily be disposed of as normal non toxic waste.

"Becoming greener made significant savings for this manufacturer and significantly the company is confident of a payback of less than 10 weeks.

"Water is so often overlooked as a primary energy source. This is a huge return on investment and the company of course has gone a long way to reduce its carbon footprint. By installing this system they have reduced their impact on the country's water resources which, even in times of flooding, are not infinite.

"Any industry using process water can benefit and we are currently doing free energy audits on other companies' water usage to help them realise these benefits."

IPS is currently providing free energy audits on a company's water usage and can be contacted on
+44 (0)1495 294500 or visit



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