The automotive industry has not traditionally had a major focus on sustainability. The assembly-line manufacturing process, which is still greatly in use today, uses a considerable amount of manpower, energy, metals, and water. This leaves behind a significant carbon footprint. With the pandemic, a light has been shed on many industries and what they are doing right and, more importantly, wrong to make the world more environmentally safe. One company trying to drive change in the automotive industry is OriginClear, a clean water innovation hub aiming to solve global issues we face today.
Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of OriginClear, shares, “One vital trend we see in the automotive industry is the increased efforts toward sustainability, particularly concerning water usage. Producing one car uses about 40,000 gallons of water, which is really alarming when you consider that in 2021 the US produced 1.6 million cars. And not to mention, water rates are skyrocketing.” In almost every stage of auto manufacturing, water is needed with the highest usage during the metal finishing, boiler feed, paint/coatings shops, and cooling tower makeup processes.
Leaders in the automotive industry are shifting gears. Both large and small companies are increasingly feeling the pressure to rethink how they operate. Eckelberry shares, “Luckily, more and more auto manufacturers are implementing water-saving practices and technologies, a trend which has resulted in a significant decrease in water usage over the last decade. But we must keep it going.” OriginClear’s Modular Water Systems™ division is already moving the dial in the auto industry.
A major automotive dealer wanted to open a strategically placed mid-Atlantic dealership in a highly desirable, customer-oriented location. Unfortunately, its preferred real estate location did not have access to public sewer. It was land and soil constrained, so a conventional on-site wastewater disposal system could not be installed. The engineers decided to tap into OriginClear’s closed-loop Zero-Liquid-Discharge (ZLD) blackwater recycling system, which would replace an on-site disposal system and enable the customer to develop the subject property and open the intended dealership. The system treats the facility’s raw sewage to a tertiary level compliant with current wastewater reuse standards such that the reclaimed wastewater can be recycled in toilets and urinals. Riggs added, “Moving toward closed-loop water systems and treating water for reuse are two very promising areas with big impact, especially when you consider that industry accounts for 50% of water usage in the US and we recycle less than 1% of all wastewater.” Another trend to move the automotive industry into a more sustainable future is the manufacturing of electric vehicles. Another standout OriginClear project is cleaning water used during the battery production process for a top electrical vehicle company.
The idea of sustainable practices in the auto industry is a no-brainer. But in practice, we must remember that these companies will need to balance their green line with the bottom line. Ideas are great, but they need to make financial sense. Eckelberry shares, “These auto manufacturers aren’t in the water business, so implementing vital technology to make their water usage more sustainable, which is a big CapEx expense, can be an issue. With our investor-funded Water On Demand™ initiative, we are enabling businesses and communities to gain access to the water treatment and recycling equipment and expertise they need with little to no upfront cost. CapEx then becomes pay-as-you-go OpEx – something that is really going to help this crucial trend continue.” By eliminating the considerable upfront cost, OriginClear removed the barrier to entry for not just the automotive industry but all trying to improve their water practices and meet the consumer demands for sustainability. With industry using up to 89% of resources when it comes it water, it relives the pressure off the centralized system letting the main focused remain on providing water to the people.