At Xylem, our pumps, mixers, treatment systems and analytical instruments help customers solve their unique water challenges. But we aim to take it one step further by making sustainability a part of the product design and the management of the solution.
At Xylem, we develop products that use less energy and require the use of fewer or no chemicals, which decreases waste that can harm the environment and lowers the overall resources consumed in the product’s lifecycle. In 2015, we embarked on new projects around the globe where our environmentally responsible products were put into operation for our customers.
We continued our efforts to improve the energy efficiency of our product lines. For three significant product lines, we increased the combined Product Efficiency percentage by 0.3 percent. This means we are lowering the “waste energy” that is mainly lost as heat. The increase in product efficiency for these three lines equates to eliminating 75,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, which according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 15,715 passenger vehicles.
Simultaneously, as water issues escalate and evolve, the need for different products that address these new challenges will increase. Our aim is continuous product innovation and an increase in the percentage of sales from new products that address these new challenges, including energy efficiency. To continue on the product innovation path, we set a goal in 2015 to achieve a 25 percent Vitality Index – the percentage of total sales from Xylem products launched in the last five years – by 2020.
Product Energy Efficiency
Below are average Product Efficiency percentages for our Flygt, Steady and Grindex pumps, which accounted for 35 percent of our 2015 sales. The percentage measures the amount of energy these pumps use to do their jobs, such as transporting water.
At Xylem, we measure our Vitality Index – the percentage of total sales from Xylem products launched in the last five years. In 2015, the percentage decreased year-over-year as certain highly successful products dropped out of the metric because they had been on the market for more than five years.
Rising levels of atmospheric carbon are resulting in higher ocean acidity, which can have profound negative effects on the health of ocean plant and animal life. This year, we participated in the prestigious Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a competition that invites scientists, engineers and innovators from around the globe to improve our understanding of how CO2 emissions are affecting ocean acidification, and to develop a new pH-sensing platform that can help begin the process of healing our oceans. Our innovative solution uses sophisticated optical sensors as well as calibration and validation systems to provide critical data to better understand this threat to our oceans.
Xylem water and wastewater pumps are built to last a long time if they are properly maintained. But not all customers perform proper maintenance on a regular basis. With good intentions but limited resources, some customers adopt a run-to-failure approach that can significantly reduce the life of a pump. With our TotalCare Services, Xylem technicians take a proactive approach to prevent issues and ensure long lives for our pumps. In addition to extending the pump life, these services lead to environmental benefits such as reduced need for new resources and material, fewer travel-related emissions for service and repair, and higher-efficiency performance. And with the addition of our Condition Audits, technicians can advise customers on which repairs are urgent and which ones can wait — keeping all pumps running smoothly and efficiently.
A plastic bag, a diaper, and even a towel — with our award-winning N-technology none of them can clog the Flygt Experior pump, even when it’s pumping at maximum efficiency. When the pump is connected to our Flygt SmartRun intelligent controls, the pump can reduce blockages while consuming up to 50 percent less energy.
Using Technology to Heal the Chesapeake Bay.
As excessive nutrients entered the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, fueling large and harmful algae blooms, we partnered with a wastewater treatment plant in Frederick, Maryland, on a comprehensive solution. The plant installed our Leopold filtration system to reduce nitrate nitrogen and total phosphorous being discharged into the watershed and also replaced the existing chemical treatment system with our Wedeco ultraviolet system to prevent harmful by-products. The solution is helping to slow the growth of damaging algae blooms, which results in higher oxygen levels and improves the ability of the bay to act as a healthy ecosystem.
In Yorkshire, U.K., our energy-efficient Flygt top-entry agitators — a propeller type of mixer that can handle thick, high-fiber sludge — are part of a new waste treatment facility that processes and recycles waste. The plant produces nutrient-rich compost for land application and biogas green energy that generates roughly three-quarters of the plant’s own energy needs. These processes are reducing waste going to landfills while supporting the U.K.’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation chose our YSI data buoys to monitor water quality during a bridge repair project on the Housatonic River. In accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection requirements issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act, the buoys electronically relay real-time information about churning and turbidity — or the presence and movement of muddy water from construction - that could be damaging the riverbed. These “smart” buoys also eliminate potential injury risks associated with traditional manned boat-monitoring missions.
Treating Wastewater With Less Water Waste
In June 2015, Xylem unveiled a drinking water filtration system that destroys difficult-to-treat contaminants — including personal care products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and steroids, pesticides and herbicides — while using less water than other treatment methods.
Our Leopold Oxelia™ filtration system is a multi-barrier solution that combines ozone oxidation and biologically active filtration into a single process. This solution is powerful and flexible enough to eliminate “contaminants of emerging concern” that can pass through conventional wastewater treatment processes. If these contaminants are discharged back into surface waters, they can cause harm to aquatic life and to people who draw their drinking water from these sources.
Oxelia produces a supply of clear and biologically stable water that protects water ecosystems and is safe for drinking.
The process also conserves water by minimizing filter backwash. Other treatment systems concentrate the collected contaminants into a waste stream that can represent as much as 20 percent of total flow — and also require additional special treatment. With Oxelia, the filter backwash makes up less than 3 percent of total flow, and can be sent back to the beginning of the system for a second pass-through or managed by a solids handling system that requires no special treatment.
After years of extensive testing, this new system was officially unveiled last year at the American Water Works Association annual conference in Anaheim, California. The state was — and still is — in the midst of one of the most severe droughts on record, and water reuse was a prominent topic of interest at the conference. The location of this new product launch reinforced the vital role that Oxelia can have in increasing water reuse capabilities in order to secure a sustainable water supply today and for future generations.