Water technology Featured

11:11am EDT August 26, 2003
The Georgia Pacific Columbus plant is saving money thanks to new technology.

The local plant -- with headquarters in Atlanta -- makes resin that goes on glass fibers used in home insulation and laminating resins for countertops. These processes require the use of two water towers that provide cooling water for heat exchangers. But treating the water can be a challenge.

Len Hayes, assistant plant manager, says conventional water treatment is based on cycles.

"There's a certain amount of dissolved solids -- minerals, biological growth and scale -- in water. Any water tower will build up scale on the inside of the pipes," says Hayes.

To reduce this scale, the company used traditional chemical methods in both towers -- methods that carry safety risks.

"Any time you're handling chemicals, you worry about spillage and the chemicals getting on a person," Hayes says. "Then you have to make sure you're applying the chemicals continuously and store them. We wanted to get away from using them."

Last year, the plant installed new technology produced by Columbus-based Chardon Laboratories Inc., which treats the water electronically instead of with chemicals. After testing the system in one tower for a year, Hayes reports several benefits.

"There are no chemical additives needed in the tower," Hayes says. "And we've reduced our costs. We reduced the amount of water we need to use in the process and have less sewer costs."

Hayes estimates that Georgia Pacific will save between $20,000 and $25,000 annually. He says Chardon's PowerPure system saves the company money because less water is discharged in the cooling process. And that means lower sewer costs.

"It follows that the more water you use, the higher the water bill and sewer charges," he says.

Hayes says that because Chardon's technology removes dissolved solids from the water, the plant has been able to increase the number of cycles the water can be used again.

Hayes says plant managers are considering installing the technology in the second water tower.

"We wanted to use the system a year before making the decision," he says. "We're coming close to making that decision, and we're looking at several other functions of the system that are comparable to traditional water treatment systems." How to reach: Platform Lab, (614) 675-3711 or www.platformlab.org; Edison Welding Institute, (614) 688-5000 or www.ewi.org