Recycling the rain test water

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  • SEAT has succeeded in lowering its water consumption per car produced by 31% in the past 8 years and is moving towards the goal of achieving 38% by 2025
  • The paint workshop and the rain test booth are the areas that consume the most water and where most progress has been made
  • Reducing consumption, recycling and reuse are the pillars for minimizing the impact on the water cycle

Martorell, 22/03/2019. – Energy-efficient appliances, automatic sprinkler systems, low flow taps in kitchens and bathrooms… Raising awareness about wasting water has gained ground in people’s homes, but what about in industry? The efforts made by SEAT highlight how much progress has been made on this topic, with the commitment to preserving ecosystems as a basic cornerstone of its environmental strategy.

470 Olympic swimming pools: Water consumption at the Martorell factory amounted to around 1,170,000 m3 in 2018, the equivalent of 470 Olympic swimming pools. This figure has gone down, however, in the past 8 years thanks to the company’s environmental programmes; a clear improvement when breaking down consumption per car – from 3.54 m3 in 2010 to 2.46 m3 last year; close to 31% less. 

An ocean of paint: The paint workshop is the facility that consumes the most water, nearly half of the total. Chassis surface treatments, water wash booths prior to painting and the final paint applications on cars are the main areas that require large amounts of water. But this is precisely where consumption is being reduced. When cars are spray painted, the small amount that does not make it onto the vehicles falls into a treatment tank. “Here we add the necessary chemical products to separate the paint from the water, and once clean, it is returned to the process in a completely closed circuit”, explains Dr. Joan Carles Casas, a Plant Engineering manager at SEAT. 

Monsoon rain: Another area that generates a high level of consumption is the rain test, which is used to check the watertightness of the vehicles by pouring down 150 litres of water per square metre on a six-minute run. This process also uses a closed circuit. “We collect and carry all the water used to a purification circuit and later return it to the process for reuse”, explains Dr. Casas. 

The future is now: A lot of progress has been made at SEAT, but there is still a long way to go. In order to drastically reduce the impact on the water cycle, new, more efficient processes are needed to lower the amount of water consumed, recycle and reuse the water used in a single process, and return it to the ecosystem in optimum condition. The ultimate goal is to reduce consumption by 38% by 2025.

To this effect, several projects have been implemented such as the condensate recovery of water vapour in the air conditioning systems or the monitoring of cooling systems. In addition, weather condition forecasting systems are being implemented to programme the watering of green spaces. And furthermore, pilot tests are being carried out with electrocoagulation, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis systems to recycle an enormous amount of waste water.

“Digitalisation and new technologies are helping us make enormous progress towards a model of circular economy with more recycling and fewer emissions. But what is more important is the awareness and proactivity of the SEAT team, which will certainly enable us to fulfil our goals”, concluded Dr. Casas.

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