BFGoodrich's tire manufacturing plant in Woodburn, Ind., has significantly reduced water and chemical use while increasing efficiency with help from GE’s advanced water-chemical technology.

The water supply at the facility comes from a well that produces very hard water, resulting in the need to chemically treat it for use as boiler feedwater in the plant's steam systems. Lower quality water was not allowing the boiler systems to run at optimal levels, thus limiting efficiency and increasing water usage. That's when Greenville, S.C.-based BFGoodrich asked GE for help.

With the installation of a reverse osmosis system and with the proper chemical treatment program, BFGoodrich improved its boiler makeup water, which allowed for an increase in total boiler cycles, leading to fuel cost savings. The tire plant now conserves 9.9 million gal/yr of water, reducing its environmental impact. The company also reduced operating expenses and improved overall safety conditions, according to GE.

Other savings came from steam reduction, elimination of sludge removal, and elimination of chemicals such as lime and soda ash. GE’s solution also enabled the Woodburn facility to improve safety conditions by reducing the amount of chemicals needed to treat boiler water, while at the same time increasing boiler efficiency due to improved water quality.

“The improvements to our boilers and makeup water after installing GE’s water treatment system resulted in fewer mechanical issues and less chemical handling by the operators,” says Paul Cagle, Woodburn's plant manager. “This is a significant improvement, especially from an EHS [environmental, health, safety] standpoint, because it reduces the chances for accidents or injury to our operators.”

In addition to cost and safety issues, the tire company selected the GE technology to reduce the plant’s environmental impact.

GE Power & Water's business unit for water and process technologies in Trevose, Pa., awarded BFGoodrich a GE ecomagination Leadership Award to recognize the company for noteworthy reductions in water consumption, chemicals and waste using GE technology. The award recognizes achievements of industrial users that significantly surpass and improve environmental and industrial operational goals while balancing industrial demands.