Historical Articles

December, 1953 issue of Plating



From Waste to Profits—In Water

THE COURSE OF HISTORY through the centuries often has been altered by the presence or absence of water. A repetition of the stark fact that a supply of good water is essential for industrial as well as social survival was reported in back-page press dispatches at the very start of 1953. At that time, drought induced power shortages in the Pacific Northwest and the Tennessee Valley areas resulted in losses of about 40 million pounds of aluminum per month. The drought continued throughout the year critically affecting potable water supplies and creating repercussions among food producers of the nation. It was only during the past few weeks that partial relief to this worst dry spell in twenty years was realized through some moderate rains.

This topical interest in water is no less meaningful to the metal finishing industry. The industry uses as much water as any industry, with the possible exception of the paper-making group. Now that the industrial use of water is becoming the subject of increased governmental controls, extra problems are added to the old bugaboos of the plater. Since the nation’s population figures give promise to climb at an increased rate, no crystal ball is needed to see that controls will become more exacting.

Industry already has recognized the challenge it must meet. It has established various study groups whose activities have produced worthwhile results in a remarkably short time. The AES research program, through the work of two projects, has contributed data of immediate value in the attack on the problem. Aiding in this fundamental work are many commissions. Among them is the well-known 8-state agency in the Ohio Valley.

To these efforts may be added those of the individual manufacturing plants. Through good-housekeeping measures and other steps, the amount of waste water can and has been reduced with subsequent cost savings in overall operations. Numerous instances are on record where the dollar value of reclaimed materials from industrial waste water is in excess of the costs of the installation and maintenance of recovery systems.

It may well be that not all users of industrial water will show a profit in dollars and cents. But there will be those intangible profits that accrue in the form of civic and ultimate economic benefits for all.

Al Korbelak



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