AkzoNobel’s operational Eco-Efficiency programme turns rainwater into paint

Posted: Thursday 7th April 2011

Ingenious engineers at AkzoNobel’s factory in Prudhoe are harvesting rainwater for paint production as part of the company’s operational Eco-Efficiency programme.

The project enables AkzoNobel to harvest up to 1.7 million litres of rainwater per year, potentially cutting the factory’s annual water usage in half. The biggest improvement that the operational Eco-Efficiency programme has delivered comes from supplying the water to the production line over 20 times faster than previously. Water can now be supplied at a rate of up to 500L/min due to higher water pressure and on-site storage and this generates Batch Cycle Time savings of 50 per cent on some Cuprinol production lines.

The rainwater harvesting project costs will have been paid back in just one year through a £10,000 saving on the factory’s water bill.

Steve Hawes, the engineer who masterminded the project said: “We took the opportunity to look at harvesting rainwater while reviewing the best ways of increasing efficiency in our production process. We are delighted with the results of the programme, we have significantly reduced our production footprint and the initiative will pay for itself in just one year.”

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 could roll out the rainwater harvesting scheme to additional locations if rainwater capture points can be identified and achievable water volumes are viable.

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