Alcoa Uses Natural Systems for Water Management

Natural water technology systems have enabled Alcoa to decrease water usage and to return more clean water to the communities in which the company operates, said Rajat Ghosh, Ph.D., a senior project leader in Alcoa’s Environmental Science and Sustainable Technology Division.

Speaking at the China America National Frontiers of Engineering symposium held at Changsha University, Hunan Province, Ghosh explained Alcoa’s water technology strategy.

“The world’s water usage is expected to increase by 40 percent in the next 20 years, which means that about two-thirds of the world’s population could be under water stress conditions by 2025,” Ghosh said. “Recognizing this global mega trend, Alcoa has taken proactive steps to minimize our water usage and implement natural systems for both water reduction and treatment. We see engineered natural systems as practical, effective and sustainable solutions to the water problems encountered by industries and communities.”

For the past six years, Alcoa has focused on the development, evaluation, and deployment of innovative and low-cost sustainable water management technologies and approaches. Such approaches focus on eliminating conventional and more costly end-of-pipe water treatment technologies.

In addition to looking at production process changes to reduce the need for water, Alcoa is also focused on the use of significantly lower cost natural systems for water reduction, beneficial use and treatment. Such approaches, which can cost up to 75 percent less than conventional technologies, include green roofs, rainwater harvesting, water irrigation onto fields of grass and trees, engineered wetlands, and the use of various natural media for filtration of water contaminants, known as enhanced natural media filtration.

Ghosh joined Alcoa in 2005 and is involved in managing a wide range of strategic environmental projects. Prior to Alcoa, he was a senior technical consultant for The RETEC Group. Currently an inventor on one patent with four additional patents pending; he has published 25 external papers and has authored one book.

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