Valeo has reduced its water consumption by 32% in relation to sales since 2009.
This reduction has been achieved thanks to efforts made by the Group’s sites in two main areas: to reduce the amount of water used for industrial purposes, which represents 54% of total consumption, and to reduce water used for general purposes.
The reduction of industrial water use is a priority for Valeo, which a few years ago introduced closed circuit cooling systems for its machinery, based on the continuous recycling of water.
In terms of water use for general purposes, sites have introduced good practice: push taps, flow restrictors for taps and shower heads, the installation of counters and identification of leaks. On some sites, the reduction was immediate and spectacular: for example the Itatiba site in Brazil managed to halve its general water consumption in a year, saving 1,448m3.
Combining reductions in energy and water consumption at the Wemding site (Germany)
The Wemding site has installed a heat exchanger based on the principle of adiabatic cooling. This technique uses the natural thermodynamic properties of water to cool warm air from production machinery in an environmentally-friendly way. In winter, warm air from industrial processes is cooled in a heat exchanger (inside the facility – see photo). Because the air outside is cooler than the air inside the system, it captures warm air calories from the plant. You could say that the warm air from the plant “donates its heat” to the outside air, with the result that it cools down. The greater the difference in temperature between the inside and outside air, the more effective the system.
In summer, when the outside air is warmer, the system is less effective; demineralized water is then sprayed periodically from valves in tiny droplets (see diagram) onto the surfaces via which the industrial process air from the plant exchanges heat with the outside. Water has a better thermal capacity than air (it retains heat better). It is sprayed in order to capture the air's heat and cool the air before it reaches the heat exchange surface. This improves the efficiency of the system.
This type of system replaces a cooling system based entirely on water, and is very energy efficient. The Wemding site has saved 610,000 kWh and 1,400m3 of water per year in this way. .