Pratt & Whitney Sustainability Goal Drives Aerospace Innovation
As a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC), US Company, Pratt & Whitney is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading aerospace organisations and is implementing its renowned skills in innovation to head the industry’s eco requirements.
Manufacturing Digital was able to discuss the company’s long-term carbon reduction goals in an exclusive interview with Alan H. Epstein, Vice President, Technology and Environment, Pratt & Whitney.
Manufacturing Digital: Could you outline a bit of a history of Pratt & Whitney in regards to its environmental concerns and how it has managed to adhere to the trend as it’s developed in recent years?
Alan Epstein: UTC took a leadership position and formalised its environment, health & safety goals in 1996 to reduce injuries 10x over 10 years and reduce energy & water use, air emissions and waste in our factories. Pratt & Whitney is building on this strong foundation and our own record of having already lessened our environmental footprint over the last 15 years.
Since 2000, Pratt & Whitney has invested almost $80 million in more than 1,000 environmental projects and dramatically reduced its environmental footprint in terms of C02, water, waste and materials of concern.
Over the last 13 years, Pratt & Whitney has reduced factory GHG gases by 28 percent, water use by 64 percent or nearly one billion gallons, and its waste stream by 57 percent. Additionally, we recycle 62 percent of the remaining waste and are on our way to closing the gap to 100 percent waste recycled.
MD: Could you talk me through Pratt & Whitney’s eco-plan in regards to its internal operations and making the whole manufacturing process as efficient as possible in the future?
AH: At Pratt & Whitney, sustainability means integrating the environment into our business model, including the business model of our suppliers. We’ve made remarkable progress in making our manufacturing processes as efficient as possible and recently launched our 2025 Sustainability Goals to take us to the next level in reducing our impact on the environment. We set our 2025 goals very high and targeted areas where we could deliver the most benefit in reducing our impact on the environment globally.
To drastically reduce water usage and eliminate wastewater discharge, closed-loop water systems were installed in East Hartford and at many of our facilities to remove the contaminants introduced by the processes so that the water can be re-used. Since 2000, East Hartford has reduced its water usage by 80 percent. Any new processes brought in are closed looped to ensure that the successes are sustained.
To reach 100 percent recycled waste, we are ensuring our facilities and operations are efficient and lean. All new buildings are designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards that support the EH&S policy to minimise impact on the environment, provide economic benefits and demonstrate our continued commitment to sustainability to our employees, customers, shareholders and the public.
Every manufacturing, assembly and overhaul and repair facility has a resource conservation committee to help reduce its environmental impact. We will build on the structure and successes of these teams’ efforts to date.
MD: How is Pratt & Whitney’s eco-plan relating to the products being manufactured and the processes being used?
AH: To this end, Pratt and Whitney launched an all new family of Geared Turbofan engines called PurePower engines, which reduce fuel burn and CO2 by more than 15 percent over current engines.
At the same time, they reduce the noise footprint by 75 percent, which is also environmentally friendly and allows longer hours of operation in airports that operate under a curfew. These engines will be going on aircraft for five customers, including; Airbus A320neo; Bombardier CSeries; Embraer E-Jets; Irkut MC-21; Mitsubishi MRJ.
Pratt & Whitney spent about $1 billion over 20 years to develop the technology needed before the PurePower® engines were launched as a product. After product launch, investment continues in the engine models in order to bring them into service.
We are also investing in new manufacturing technologies such additive manufacturing to reduce the impact of producing these new engines.
MD: In the aerospace industry as a whole, how vital are carbon reduction and eco-friendly processes becoming as a differentiating and how important is it to produce something completely unique and innovative?
AH: Pratt & Whitney has made a commitment to introduce the most sustainable products in their class. This includes the lowest fuel burn and the least noise. We have and continue to invest in new manufacturing approaches to reduce the impact of our operations and eliminate materials of concern.
At Pratt & Whitney, ‘innovate’ and ‘unique’ are not objectives, they are tools to create value – value for our customers, for our investors, for our employees, and for the communities in which we live and operate.
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.