A new water system installed at Cummins Inc. has cut the engine maker's water use and has nearly eliminated the need to use hazardous chemicals.
The $28,000 system installed at the company's corporate office building is producing $85,000 in savings. Another system installed at the fuel systems plant will cost $150,000 and is expected to save $150,000 a year, The Republic in Columbus reported.
The water system was developed by a California company and has been popular in water-scarce areas out West with companies such as Boeing, Microsoft and Yahoo. But the system's cost advantages have helped it gain traction across the country. Indiana users include Cummins and the Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.
Dan Duke, president of Water Conservation Technology International and a 40-year veteran of the water industry, said traditional water conditioning systems tend to become less efficient over time as small particles in water stick to pipes, pumps and other parts of the system. That requires operators to add chemicals such as sulfuric acid to the water, but those cause corrosion, which also can damage pipes and equipment.
In traditional water conditioning systems, the water quality quickly deteriorates to the point that it must be exchanged with fresh water. Water in the old system at the Cummins headquarters cycled through the system between one and three times.
Duke's system uses silica, which is naturally found in water, to create a silicate-based corrosion inhibitor in the water. That prevents the water quality from deteriorating quickly to the point that it damages pipes and equipment. The system allows the water to cycle 180 times, said Phil S. DeVinney, facility manager at the Fuel Systems Plant.
DeVinney said he was skeptical when he first heard how much the new system could save Cummins.
But he said he realized that water treatment had remained essentially unchanged since the 1940s and that it would make sense for someone to figure out a better way.
"This guy seems to have done it," DeVinney said.
Andy Hagedorn, director of facilities at Schneck Medical Center, said the hospital is on track to recoup its $25,000 investment in the first year of operation. He said the new system is expected to cut the hospital's water use by 2.8 million gallons.
"So far, we're very happy with it," Hagedorn said.
DeVinney said he hopes Cummins installs the system at facilities worldwide.
"This should save Cummins billions — not millions," he said.