Scrubbing Out Pollutants in El Paso


The following is a preview from the January 2019 issue of The Scoop, the quarterly printed magazine for Dal-Tile team members. The issue was mailed to team members’ home addresses and will be posted in PDF format to myMohawk later this month.

The El Paso manufacturing plant is going above and beyond when it comes to being ecofriendly. The team recently installed a new “wet scrubber” system to meet environmental regulation requirements — and then took it a step further with a complementary reverse osmosis process to help reduce their impact on the environment even more.

The wet scrubber system is for air pollution control: it cleans the exhaust gases and solids created in the kiln so that what goes through the kiln exhaust stacks at the end is essentially just steam.

“There are several reasons why we’ve added these new systems,” Director of Technical Services Rocky Jones said. “First, we’re aiming for very low emissions to meet government standards, and then just as importantly, the waste that comes from the wet scrubber can now be recycled and go back into the manufacturing process.”

“Our goal was to maintain Zero Landfill status, which is important to our team and helps us be a good environmental steward to the community where we operate,” El Paso Plant Manager Rene Castrejon said. “But with all of the water involved in the wet scrubber process, our waste at the plant would have increased significantly.”

Putting water back into the process
The process creates leftover contaminated water that would typically be considered waste. However, the team installed a reverse osmosis treatment system to clean the water — and then it is used again in the wet scrubber system and manufacturing process.

“Thanks to the reverse osmosis system, 100 percent of the water used in this manufacturing process can be reused,” Castrejon said. “70 percent of the water goes back into the wet scrubber process, while 30 percent is used in tile production. The only water that is not reused is what comes from the restrooms and break rooms. It not only helps with our Zero Landfill status, but it also saves costs.”

Introducing new systems can be complex and a tedious process, but at El Paso, having the right people on the team helped work through any potential snags. El Paso Maintenance Manager Jaime Ceballos, Maintenance Supervisor Jesus Herrera, Maintenance Mechanic Joe Ramos and Senior EHS Engineer Steve Willis all played key roles in the success of this project.

“We had a really great team working on this who made everything come together,” Castrejon said. “Their collaborative teamwork not only helped us meet regulation standards, but also took it a step further to reduce our water waste and costs as well.”

Jones added that the new processes could also potentially be used at other Dal-Tile facilities with kilns in order to both reduce their pollutants and decrease their water consumption.

ELP Scrubber 7

The wet scrubber operates on the exterior of the El Paso plant to clean the exhaust gases and solids created during the firing process (it was installed near the middle of the kilns).

ELP Scrubber 5

Team members control and monitor the reverse osmosis system using this interface.

ELP Scrubber 4

Water from the wet scrubber passes through traditional water treatment before heading to the reverse osmosis system.

ELP Scrubber 2

Ceballos, Herrera and Ramos near the wet scrubbers they helped to implement at the El Paso plant.

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