• Results underscore GE Corporate ecomagination commitment to reduce water use 20% by 2012
TREVOSE, PA and WILMINGTON, NC, Nov. 12, 2008 -- Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), a joint venture of GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, spearheaded wastewater plant changes that drove down water usage site-wide at its Wilmington, N.C., headquarters. The result: a reduction in water usage by 25 million gallons annually at the facility, which includes GNF's US-based fuel manufacturing operations. The plant has been working to optimize its operations and contribute towards GE's overall ecomagination commitment to reduce its water footprint 20% by 2012. GNF's new energy efficient wastewater system avoids nearly 80 tons per year of CO2 emissions, and realizes annual savings of $160,000 in water and energy use charges.
The water savings at the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) site were a result of reusing wastewater effluent with ecomagination offering ZeeWeed® membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology as a make-up water source to operate cooling towers, which would otherwise withdraw raw water obtained from local groundwater wells to accomplish the same. MBR combines ultrafiltration with biological treatment to produce a high-quality wastewater effluent that meets or exceeds some of the most stringent wastewater discharge and/or reuse standards. Its operation requires less chemical use, produces less residual waste, and has a much smaller physical footprint than conventional reuse systems.
"Given the water scarcity issues we have been facing in the region, we were pleased to find an economical way to meet the growing needs of our company while conserving the area's fresh water supplies, "said Lori Butler, GEH General Manager of EHS. "This project significantly reduced the physical footprint of the treatment system at the plant, while doubling the capacity of the wastewater system."
GEH is undertaking a multi-year expansion and modernization of the Wilmington campus to meet growing demand for nuclear power. The total employee population at the site has nearly doubled over the last three years. The site's old water infrastructure capacity and tighter state water discharge restrictions were limiting the expansion of the facility. In addition, the new wastewater system reduced well water pumping at the filter plant, reducing energy usage and avoiding CO2 emissions.
"Our commitment to delivering on our ecomagination goals is strong because it truly validates the relationship between water conservation, efficiency and economic growth," said Jeff Fulgham, Chief Marketing Officer, GE Water & Process Technologies. "This project is an excellent example of how virtually any company can reduce water usage and operating costs with GE's broad portfolio of solutions."
The GEH site draws groundwater from wells for use on the site and generates an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 gallons of wastewater per day. The wastewater is treated by the MBR system and ultraviolet light is used for final disinfection. The treated wastewater effluent is then directed to the facility's cooling towers, an integral component of the campus heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) system, where it is re-used as make-up water, thereby eliminating the use of groundwater for this purpose.
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Based in Wilmington, N.C., GEH is a world-leading provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services.