Working towards net positive water use
Approximately 87% of the water that we take in at our Intel campus is returned to the River Liffey, once treated in the Leixlip wastewater treatment plant to the required standard.
One of our key sustainability targets at Intel is to achieve net positive water use. This means that by 2030, we aim to put more water back into the external water network than is taken out by us. This target will be achieved through a combination of water conservation and restoration.
Increasing water conservation at the Leixlip campus
One specific example of a conservation project being undertaken here in Ireland is the installation of a nanofiltration system.
When water arrives at the Leixlip campus it is held in water tanks. The Intel production process requires water of a very high purity and therefore our water must be refined before it is sent to the factory.
Water is brought from the onsite tanks to our ultra-pure water (UPW) filtration system. As the water goes through the first stage of UPW filtration, approximately 25% of it is lost due to the nature of how it is filtered.
The new nanofiltration system will capture this lost volume of water and enable the vast majority of it to be reused in our softened water system which serves other functions onsite, for example in our scrubber systems which remove particulates from industrial exhaust or gas streams.
The science behind the new system
Nanofiltration is a membrane filtration process used to soften and disinfect water. It primarily removes the divalent ions from the water, such as calcium and magnesium hardness, while allowing most of the monovalent ions to pass through. This removes the bulk of the hardness without using any additional regeneration chemicals. Instead, a small reject flow is used to carry away the concentrated impurities. The process is very similar to Reverse Osmosis, however due to the increased membrane pore size it requires less energy and produces higher fluxes at low pressures, making it a more energy and cost-efficient technology.
The water from Nanofiltration is not pure enough for our UPW systems however it does meet the quality required for our Softened Water System.
Conserving 484 million litres of water every year
The nanofiltration system will come into operation at our Leixlip campus in Summer 2022. The nanofiltration system is the most significant water conservation project to ever be implemented at the Leixlip campus and will result in at least 484 million litres of water being conserved per year.