Seat reduces water consumption by 31%

Seat’s Martorell factory in Barcelona has reduced its water consumption per car produced by 31% in the last eight years.

By using cutting-edge technology and more efficient processes to reuse and recycle water used in its manufacturing processes, particularly in the paint workshop and rain test booth – the two areas that consume the most water – Seat has reduced its impact on the water cycle as it continues its commitment to preserve ecosystems.

The factory, which produces around 450,000 cars a year, still used 1,170,000 m3 of water in 2018 – the equivalent of 470 Olympic swimming pools.

But it aims to further reduce consumption to 38% by 2025 by implementing even more systems and processes around the factory, from capturing water vapour in the air conditioning units to recycling huge amounts of waste water.

Dr Joan Carles Casas, plant engineering manager at Seat, said, ‘Digitalisation and new technologies are helping us make enormous progress towards a model of circular economy with more recycling and fewer emissions. But what is more important is the awareness and proactivity of the Seat team, which will certainly enable us to fulfil our goals.’

The Martorell paint workshop uses half of all water consumed by the plant, thanks to processes like chassis surface treatments, water wash booths and final paint applications on cars. Efficiency in this area has been improved by a process that takes excess spray paint into a treatment tank, where chemicals separate the paint and water. Once clean, the water is returned into the process and reused.

Meanwhile, the factory’s rain test checks how watertight each vehicle is by pouring 150 litres of water per square metre on them, during a six-minute period. Here, a closed circuit has also been introduced, with all of the water collected and carried to a purification circuit before being reused in the same process.

Among the systems and processes planned to help Seat reduce consumption to 38% are: condensate recovery of water vapour in the factory’s air conditioning system; monitoring of cooling systems weather condition forecasting systems to programme more efficiently the watering of green spaces; pilot tests with electrocoagulation, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis systems, designed to recycle large amounts of waste water produced by the plant.