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.