We strive to use water responsibly at our sites worldwide. As part of these efforts, we review water usage and water protection concepts in all regions where Linde is active. The amount and quality of water required varies according to facility. We examined how much water we consume in areas known to suffer from possible water scarcity (water stress areas). The findings revealed that a few Linde production sites are situated in areas with a high risk of water scarcity. These production sites only account for a small percentage of Linde’s water consumption.
At Linde, water is used for steam generation and in manufacturing processes. Office buildings are another water consumer. However, the majority of water we need is used for cooling in plants. Since this water does not come into contact with products or contaminants, it can be returned to the water cycle with no further treatment. In doing so, we ensure that the water’s temperature does not pose any risk to the surrounding ecosystem.
The majority of water used by Linde is from surface water sources, such as rivers or lakes. Groundwater also plays a role. The proportion of drinking water is very small in relation to the total amount of water used.
Water balance in 2017
1 More than 98% of the water used at Linde’s sites comes from surface water, sea water or ground water sources which do not meet drinking water quality standards. Less than 2% of the demand at Linde’s sites is covered by water which meets drinking water quality standards.
2 More than 93% of the water used in Linde’s processes is used for cooling purposes, including once-through cooling water and sea water. Less than 7% of the water used in Linde’s processes is consumed in the process or discharged into the sewerage system after use.
3 More than 95% of the water discharged is unpolluted cooling water which can be fed back into the water system without need for further treatment. Less than 5% of the discharged water is piped to a waste water treatment plant or facility: e.g. boiler blowdown, purge from cooling towers, and sanitary foul water.
In addition to once-through systems, we also use water circulation systems to recycle water. This means that only a small amount of water needs to be replaced, depending on the water quality and equipment used in the plants.
We also reduce consumption of drinking water by using service water. The scope of our global energy management also extends to observing how water is handled at our sites. This involves, for example, examining the water consumed in cooling towers and the efficiency of water pumps.
Waste water generated by our production and sanitary facilities, if necessary, is either cleaned directly by in-house wastewater treatment plants or discharged into municipal or industrial systems for cleaning. In order to assess the level of water pollution caused by the company, we measure emissions of phosphates, nitrates and organic compounds.
Small amounts of heavy metals, for example, may be present in the waste water from our air separation plant cooling processes. These are present in the metal pipes and their protective coating and are released by corrosion. Phosphates are used as a means of combating corrosion.
Products for clean water
Our water solutions for customers help improve the quality of raw and drinking water. Moreover, we also offer solutions for reusing process and waste water. One example is using carbon dioxide to treat high levels of sulphate and acid in lakes and mine water that pose a threat to groundwater.
Community projects for water protection
Linde employees in various regions worldwide are committed to water protection, for example through environmental initiatives in Southeast Asia.
Responsibility along the value chain
Highlighted: Areas of the value chain relating to the issues covered on this page