GE helps steel manufacturer conserve water, meet environmental goals

GE Water & Process Technologies, a unit of General Electric Company, has teamed with Orb Electrical Steels to help the Newport, South Wales-based company meet its environmental goals by achieving major water and cost savings...

• Orb Electrical Steels receives GE's ecomagination Leadership Award

TREVOSE, PA and LONDON, ENGLAND, Nov. 17, 2008 -- Building on its expertise and broad experience in the steel industry, GE Water & Process Technologies, a unit of General Electric Company, has teamed with Orb Electrical Steels to help the Newport, South Wales-based company meet its environmental goals by achieving major water and cost savings.

Orb Electrical Steels, a business within the Corus Group and a leading manufacturer of specialty steels for applications worldwide, has reduced its annual water usage by nearly 276,000 cubic meters (60 million gallons) and its annual operating costs by approximately £300,000 ($500,000 US). The project played a key role in enabling Orb to support a corporate sustainability program that calls for reduced water consumption.

For its efforts in implementing a more efficient, cost-effective water management system, Orb Electrical Steels recently received a GE ecomagination Leadership Award. This award is given to the top one percentile of GE Water & Process Technologies' customers who demonstrate significant environmental and economical performance improvements, striking a balance among today's environmental, industrial and sustainability challenges.

In operation for over a century, Orb Electrical Steels has traditionally used the town's water for cooling and cleaning at the steel-making plant. The water was used only once before being discharged into the nearby River Usk.

Seeking ways to maximize water usage and as part of the ongoing relationship, representatives from both companies meet monthly to investigate new, cost-saving ideas for the plant. From these discussions emerged a redesign of the physical layout of the water management system, which enabled re-use of the existing site water. Adding rainwater capture capabilities to the system supplemented the supply of available water.

Reducing costs was a major driver for this project. Blowdown from cooling towers was captured, blended with rainwater and reused for rinsing steel, a far more cost-effective option than purchasing potable water for this purpose. By conserving water, the project also addressed the issue of water scarcity, which can be a factor due to occasional droughts in the area.

"Further projects are ongoing, and indications are that our site's water consumption will continue to be reduced," said Gareth Makarek, Energy Manager of Orb Electrical Steels. "The savings realized so far in operations have nearly doubled our return on investment for the improvements that have been implemented."

"The success of this and other ongoing projects with Orb can serve as a blueprint at other steel plants and industrial sites," said Dave Jellison, Regional Executive, Western Europe, GE Water & Process Technologies. "This was an example of being proactive to identify better management of the existing water resources, without any new technology or additional cost to the customer. We are committed to helping customers decrease their water use while increasing the efficiency and productivity of their operations. Controlling costs in this difficult global economy is critical, and GE has a wide range of offerings that can help virtually any business reduce its water footprint."

The ecomagination Leadership Award was presented during an event at the British Museum hosted by GE, a sponsor of the 2012 Olympics in London. Hosting the Olympic Games will provide the catalyst for an extensive program of urban and environmental regeneration in London.

GE's ecomagination commitment is both a business strategy for growth at GE and a promise to contribute positively to the environment. As part of that commitment, GE has pledged to reduce its own fresh water use by 20% by 2010. That is one of the world's most aggressive corporate water targets to date, and it is expected to free up 7.4 million cubic meters (two billion gallons) of fresh water a year -- enough water to fill more than 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

GE Water & Process Technologies is a world leader in membrane and filtration, diagnostic tools, specialty chemicals, mobile water, service, and financing.

Orb Electrical Steels is part of Cogent Power Group, a leading manufacturer of electrical steels with businesses at Orb in Newport, South Wales, Surahammar in Sweden and Burlington, Ontario.

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