“Water is the oil of the 21st century,” declared Andrew Liveris in 2008, speaking as Executive Chairman of DowDuPont, a $71 billion chemical company with hundreds of offices and manufacturing locations around the world. Ten years later, this statement continues to ring true. Around the world, fresh, clean water has become a precious commodity, and even in water-rich locations like Minnesota, businesses are realizing the importance of conserving and reusing the water we have.
Within the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area, which includes all of Ramsey and Washington and portions of Anoka and Hennepin Counties, 12% of all groundwater used (3.5 billion gallons per year) goes toward industrial uses. Last year, Washington County partnered with the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), an outreach program at the University of Minnesota, to offer free, in-depth water efficiency consultations and specially trained summer interns to help businesses implement water-saving projects. Diasorin in Stillwater was one of the businesses that participated in the program.
DiaSorin is an Italian biomedical company that produces diagnostic test kits for hospitals and private testing laboratories around the world. During 2015-16, the company used approximately 8.5 million gallons of water from the City of Stillwater for manufacturing and building operations. MnTAP staff found that 37% of the incoming water was unaccounted for, meaning they couldn’t determine how it was being used or lost.
Yohanes Agustinus, a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities was selected as the MnTAP intern in 2017 to help DiaSorin identify and implement water-saving measures. During the course of his internship, Agustinus found seven potential projects, three of which were implemented by the end of the year: 1) Replacing a solenoid valve saved $6800 and 977,600 gallons of water per year; 2) Installing a throttling flow-through vacuum pump saved $15,400 and 2.2 million gal/yr; and 3) A new on-demand vacuum system will save an additional $5,200 and 522,300 gal/yr, in addition to reducing energy use by 28,000 kWh per year.
“I’ve always been passionate about pushing for a greener chemical industry,” said Agustinus, “and this program has allowed me to use my engineering skills to realize large water savings that make both economic and environmental sense.”
“This is the first time that DiaSorin teamed up with MnTAP to sponsor an intern, and it was a huge success!” said Kelly Gilliland, the Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at DiaSorin. Previously, the company had worked with Washington Conservation District and Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization to treat and reuse stormwater runoff from their parking lot through a series of two raingardens and a stormwater pond with pump. The project captures nearly 15 pounds of phosphorus and 3160 pounds of sediment per year, helping to protect Lily Lake downstream, and allows the company to reuse stormwater for irrigating turf and landscape plantings.
MnTAP is currently accepting applications for 2018 summer internships between now and February 1. With the help of a MnTAP intern, businesses will receive suggestions to improve efficiency, save money, reduce waste and material usage, or decrease regulatory compliance burden. As with all of MnTAP’s projects, proprietary information at facilities is kept confidential during and after the intern project. Learn more at www.mntap.umn.edu/interns or call Nathan Landwehr at 612-624-4697.