Linde works continuously to ensure the efficient use of water on its sites and to reduce emissions to water. More than 85 percent of Linde’s water requirement is used in cooling processes. Most of this cooling water is just heated, and can subsequently be fed back into the water system without the need for further treatment. The Group takes care to ensure that the temperature reached does not pose any risk to the surrounding ecosystem. The rest of the company’s water requirement is used in the manufacture of products, as a source of steam and in office buildings.
Total water use in 2015 was around 681 million cubic metres (2014: 682 million cubic metres). Of this amount, water consumption excluding once-through water came to around 52.8 million cubic metres (2014: 50.7 million cubic metres). Linde uses closed-loop systems as a means of reducing its water consumption, as these enable water to be used several times. The amount of waste water reported at the Group’s locations worldwide in 2015 was around 14.0 million cubic metres (2014: 13.2 million cubic metres). In accordance with the regulatory requirements on site, Linde measures emissions of phosphates, nitrates and organic compounds to water.
Initiatives for efficient use of water
During the reporting year, Linde reviewed water supplies at its key production sites worldwide. Just under one fifth of these sites are in regions which experience water stress or water scarcity according to the definition of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). In Europe, Linde experts in plant construction, water and water chemistry joined forces in 2014 to create an interdisciplinary network. The aim of this project is to optimise the use of water and cooling water systems. Since the beginning of the project, Linde has inspected 39 plants at 19 locations in the region and has implemented a number of improvements. In two air separation plants, the quantity of water and waste water being processed has been reduced by 13,000 cubic metres per annum as a result of optimising cooling circuits, equivalent to cost savings of around EUR 15,000. The Group expects this initiative to produce total cost savings of over EUR 2 million between 2014 and 2016. The cost savings achieved so far have already exceeded the investment made in the project. In the course of the financial year, the Group also delivered training to 50 employees in Europe on topics such as saving water, water treatment and handling claims. There are plans to expand this programme over the coming years. Linde also offers its water management expertise to its customers. In 2015, the Group launched an initiative which analyses the entire water circuit in customers’ new plants. The aim is to use fresh water in a way which is resource-efficient in regions with water scarcity and to recycle the waste water produced. Linde is working together with universities and other partners on research into new methods of water processing which will reduce the use of chemicals when waste water is treated.
Products for water protection
Linde gases and technologies are used to eliminate harmful substances in drinking water and bodies of water and also help to treat waste water. In this way, they enable the Group to support its industrial customers in meeting stricter environmental regulations. Around 750 million cubic metres of water, for example, was brought up to drinking water quality in 2015 in six countries using the Solvocarb® process from Linde installed by customers. After a major fire in a fertiliser warehouse in southern Germany, Linde’s Solvox® process helped to reduce the concentration of ammonium nitrate in a river to such an extent that the fish deaths feared were prevented. The process is also used successfully in river desalination.