If you're standing anywhere within Michigan’s borders, you’re never more than 6 miles from an inland lake or 85 miles from a Great Lake. It’s no wonder Michigan - home to more than 11,000 lakes - has earned the moniker, the “Great Lake State.”
Ohio, Michigan’s neighbor to the south, is another state with a nickname (the “Buckeye State”) derived from one of its prominent environmental features, its buckeye trees.
With so much culture and history wound up in their respective landscapes, it’s not surprising that Michiganians/Michiganders and Ohioans/Buckeyes value and take pride in their natural resources. Martin Marietta does, too.
It’s within these two states that the Magnesia Specialties Division’s manufacturing facilities make their home. At each location – one in Manistee, Michigan, the other in Woodville, Ohio – teams are constantly seeking innovative ways to make the best use of resources. Doing so is both cost-effective and environmentally necessary in the long term.
“Running our operations at peak efficiency limits our environmental impact and makes us more profitable,” said Magnesia Specialties Division President John Harman. “We have a shared responsibility to protect our natural resources for the enjoyment of the local communities. It’s a tremendous responsibility that we take quite seriously.”
To that end, the division has undertaken a pair of recent efforts to make its operations increasingly sustainable.
In Manistee, staff at the Magnesia Chemicals facility are in the middle of a $1 million, multi-year effort to decrease water consumption from the Great Lakes system by 1 million gallons per day. Once completed, the new process will also substantially reduce the site’s electricity usage.
At Woodville Lime and Stone, the team recently completed the design and construction of a $1.8 million briquetter that allows site operators to annually turn 40,000 tons of waste material into a valuable product that meets the needs of the customer base. The project, a continuation of a $53 million project completed in 2012, is reducing waste and electricity usage at the site and making better use of its precious reserves.
The Waters of Manistee
“There are three elements to sustainability: a social element, an economic element and an environmental element,” said Bob Gutowski, director of engineering services at Magnesia Chemicals. “When all three elements converge, that’s when you know you’re working on something that is truly sustainable.”
Gutowski (at right) said the Manistee plant has consistently worked to decrease its water usage over the years to ensure its processes were working efficiently.
For the past five years, he said, the site has been drawing about 3 million gallons of water each day from Manistee Lake, which directly connects to Lake Michigan.
Two-thirds of the flow is used as contact water to purify the operation’s magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide products. The remaining 1 million gallons are used to cool high-temperature equipment. That water, which remains unchanged from the time it was first pulled from the lake, is then returned to nature, Gutowski said.
When the site’s new water reclamation project is complete, the site will draw about 2 million gallons of water from Manistee Lake daily. One million gallons will still be used for cooling purposes, but instead of being discharged, it will instead be recycled as contact water to purify the products, Gutowski said.
While internally driven for the sake of efficiency and sustainability, the project also came about, in part, because of new environmental regulations soon to be implemented by the federal government that require operations using more than 2 million gallons of water per day and 25 percent or more of that water for once-through cooling processes to conduct additional environmental studies.
“The regulations are two-fold – if you use 2 million gallons and 25 percent. The government is requiring that we address either of those. We intend to address both,” Gutowski said. “We’re going to bring our usage down to 2 million gallons or less and we’re going reuse virtually all of our once-through cooling water as contact water.”
The project’s benefits are many. Because less water will be used, energy costs associated with pumping it from the lake will decrease. Additionally, the new process will allow for more efficient washing of the products and, as a result, reduce the chemicals needed to treat the water afterward, Gutowski said, adding that product quality should also improve. The project will also place the operation out in front of governmental regulation.
Completion of the water reclamation project is expected later this year.
The Land of Woodville
Woodville is a small village of about 2,200 people living some 20 miles south of Toledo. To put the village’s 1.3 square-miles (832 acres) in perspective: Martin Marietta’s operation rests on 1,400 acres, or land that is nearly 60 percent larger than the village proper. To say that the Company’s responsibility for the area’s natural resources is great would be an understatement.
Tim Tawney, director of engineering services at Woodville Lime and Stone, said one of his goals is to maximize that site’s 30 years of reserves as best he can. This is where the new briquetter comes into play.
The need for the machine – which was recently added to the site’s east lime load-out – was identified in 2013 as staff at the operation was evaluating the impact of a $53 million capital project that added the #7 kiln to the grounds in the fall of the previous year.
Tawney said it wasn’t long before the team found they were wasting time, resources and manpower disposing of lime fines.
It all comes down to size, he said. Most customers purchasing dolomitic lime from the Ohio operation prefer material greater a quarter-inch in size. What’s left is an abundance of material smaller than a quarter-inch, a product that has no substantial market.
“We had to haul those fines back into our pit to dispose of them and that was putting us out of balance,” Tawney said. “This project allows us to recover a majority of those fines so that we can put them into a good product we can ship to customers.”
Placed beneath a silo, the briquetter produces dolomitic lime briquettes similar in shape to the charcoal briquettes used in a grill. Like the charcoal briquettes, the lime briquettes have a market and can be sold at a profit.
Greg Sparks, a project manager in engineering services, said the briquetter is not only a worthwhile addition to the site, but also one that was constructed after much thought.
“It’s a really well-designed project,” he said. “During the planning and installation, we included some of our maintenance and dust systems workforce and they did an excellent job contributing. They’re the ones who will be working on this and performing the ongoing maintenance that will be required, so their feedback was vital.”
Tawney (at right) said the briquetter, the second on the grounds, allows the team greater control over the pit and decreases the pressure on its reserves. Additionally, it has made the operation more efficient, opened up time no longer required to transport what was an unusable byproduct and cut down on the operation’s overall energy costs.
Shareholders, Customers, Community
Harman, the division’s president, praised employees in Manistee and Woodville for their successful efforts at making the operations more efficient and said the benefits will be realized by Company shareholders and customers, as well as the local communities.
Jim Reithel, the division’s vice president of operations, said the projects exemplify the truly mutual benefits of sustainability.
“They demonstrate that efforts to reduce waste, minimize emissions and make prudent use of our natural resources can still go hand-in-hand with objectives to increase process efficiencies, meet the product quality expectations of our customers and effectively manage costs,” he said.