Water is one of the planet’s most precious resources and every drop counts.
Corning recently garnered recognition for a water-conservation and byproduct-recycling project at Corning’s optical fiber manufacturing facility in Concord, North Carolina. The effort was named a top project by peer companies who are also members of ENERGY STAR®. Corning was one of 10 companies recognized at the 2020 Environmental Protection Agency’s annual industry partners meeting for new projects that save natural resources.
“At every Corning facility around the world, we are continuously improving our energy, water, and natural resource management in our operations and we’re looking for new ways to incorporate them into product development, product design, and manufacturing processes,” said Tom Capek, senior vice president and chief engineer, Manufacturing Technology and Engineering. “This recognition demonstrates our commitment to our water conservation sustainability goal of enhancing our water strategies across our global sites, and specifically within our manufacturing plants.”
Concord’s water project greatly reduced annual water and salt generation, and uniquely enabled the plant to distribute a significant amount of certain process water byproducts to local businesses, creating mutually beneficial recycling arrangements within the local community.
To achieve this, members of the plant’s Global Energy Management (GEM) team built a full-scale storage system designed and constructed by repurposing and refinishing existing water tanks and infrastructure. The new system design and equipment upgrades generate energy efficiencies by allowing water pumps to run less frequently, enabling the plant to greatly reduce the volume of water it uses.
Since completion, this project at the Concord plant has saved 15M gallons of water annually and generated $3.1M in cost savings.
Through this water conservation project, the Concord plant and GEM team have gained a better understanding of the factors impacting water quality. The Concord GEM team has shared insights from the project with other Corning manufacturing facilities for similar improvement opportunities.