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Indiana Steel Mill Reuses a Half Million Gallons of Water

Faced with the environmental challenge of how to dispose of sludge, Indiana steel producer NLMK turned to GE’s advanced water treatment technologies and innovative solutions to dewater sludge from the spray water system thickener. After a year of implementation, the mill eliminated 2,050 tons of waste and reused 500,000 gallons of water as make up to other cooling systems.

GE recently honored NLMK with the Return on Environment (ROE) award to recognize the company for its noteworthy reductions in water usage and waste as well as its positive environmental impact and cost savings of $210,000 annually derived primarily from reduced sludge hauling and disposal costs.

“GE’s advanced water treatment technology allowed us to not only meet, but actually exceed our environmental goals and operational demands. We are thrilled to be honored with a GE ROE award, and we thank GE for recognizing us and our facility,” said H.B. Kincaid, director of operations, NLMK Indiana. “GE worked with us to develop, test and implement an effective process to reuse water, reduce waste and cut costs.”

Previously, the wet sludge was collected in a silo and periodically hauled off-site. The idea was to take this sludge and process it using a rotary vacuum filter that is coated with a layer of diatomaceous earth. As the filter rotates, it draws a layer of sludge that is subsequently dried before being scraped off and deposited into a container. Because most of the water has been removed from the sludge, the volume and weight of sludge disposed is greatly reduced resulting in disposal cost savings.

Strategically located in the Port of Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan, NLMK’s Portage, Indiana, steel mill produces high-quality liquid steel in an electric furnace and hot rolls the continuously cast slabs on a modernized 65-inch hot strip mill capable of producing 1.2 million tons of finished product. The facility is a prime supplier of hot rolled, hot-rolled pickled and oiled, hot-rolled coiled plate and carbon/alloy specialty products.

The ROE award is a prestigious award honoring a significant environmental (water, energy, resource) accomplishment. During the ROE three-tier selection process, GE examined set goals as well as the achieved environmental, operational and financial benefits, ultimately recognizing NLMK and its water and waste savings for significantly surpassing and improving environmental and industrial operational goals while balancing industrial demands.

“This project underscores the substantial environmental and economic benefits that industrial companies, including steel manufacturers, can achieve when they make an investment in water reuse and waste reduction technologies,” said Amy Ericson, global leader, chemical monitoring solutions—water and process technologies for GE Power. “Water usage in the steel industry is considerable, and implementing water recycling strategies can reduce resources and environmental impact.”

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