SEAT has succeeded in lowering its water consumption per car produced by 31% in the past 8 years and is moving towards the goal of achieving 38% by 2025.
The paint workshop and the rain test booth are the areas that consume the most water and where most progress has been made.
Water consumption at the Martorell factory amounted to around 1,170,000 m3 in 2018, the equivalent of 470 Olympic swimming pools. This figure has gone down in the past 8 years due to per car consumption dropping from 3.54 m3 in 2010 to 2.46 m3 last year; close to 31% less.
The paint workshop is the facility that consumes the most water, nearly half of the total. Chassis surface treatments, water wash booths prior to painting and the final paint applications on cars are the main areas that require large amounts of water. This is precisely where consumption is being reduced. When cars are spray painted, the small amount that does not make it onto the vehicles falls into a treatment tank.
Here we add the necessary chemical products to separate the paint from the water, and once clean, it is returned to the process in a completely closed circuit.—Dr. Joan Carles Casas, a Plant Engineering manager at SEAT
Another area that generates a high level of consumption is the rain test, which is used to check the watertightness of the vehicles by pouring down 150 liters of water per square meter on a six-minute run. This process also uses a closed circuit. SEAT collects and carries all the water used to a purification circuit and later returns it to the process for reuse, said Dr. Casas.
To reduce further the impact on the water cycle, new, more efficient processes are needed to lower the amount of water consumed, recycle and reuse the water used in a single process, and return it to the ecosystem in optimum condition. The ultimate goal is to reduce consumption by 38% by 2025.
Several projects have been implemented such as the condensate recovery of water vapor in the air conditioning systems or the monitoring of cooling systems. In addition, weather condition forecasting systems are being implemented to program the watering of green spaces. Pilot tests are being carried out with electrocoagulation, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis systems to recycle an enormous amount of waste water.