GE’s John F. Welch Technology Center in Bangalore, India, is the company’s largest integrated, multidisciplinary research and development site of its kind. The site has 4,500 full-time employees who help advance understanding on a wide range of materials technology and provide fresh analysis to support products in our Oil and Gas, Power and Water, Aviation, Transportation, Home and Business Solutions and Healthcare businesses. The center is also the company’s site of greatest concern according to Maplecroft’s Water Stress Index, because of its location in a water scarce region within a developing country. But through efforts that date back to construction of the campus in 2000, our Bangalore research center is a zero wastewater discharge facility that treats and utilizes all wastewater generated on-site.
The 50-acre campus showcases a variety of technologies that help manage water consumption, usage and waste. An on-site plant with advanced sanitary wastewater treatment capability for domestic and industrial effluent (also known as tertiary treatment) features a Submerged Aerobic Fixed Film (SAFF) process, installed in 2006, and GE Ultra Filtration (UF) advanced technology, introduced in 2011. An average of 70,000 gallons of freshwater use is saved per day due to these treatments. A GE Reverse Osmosis (RO) system installed in 2009 to remove total dissolved solids, and soften treated wastewater and freshwater, helps avoid 2.85 million gallons of freshwater use per year. An additional 660,000 gallons of rainwater per year is harvested through a rooftop system. Finally, excess water that would otherwise be lost to runoff during rains is rerouted on the ground to underground recharge systems that replenish the water table. Additional destinations for treated or collected water include the site’s cooling facilities, its toilet flushing systems and its 17 acres of gardens.
With the help of GE technologies and other systems, per capita water usage levels at our center have dropped by 35% since 2006. A cross-campus water audit in 2013 is also planned as part of additional efforts to reduce usage. These site-level efforts help drastically reduce both the level of tanker-transported freshwater incoming to the facility, and the burden placed on current water supplies by a growing urban population of 8.4 million people. The center’s effective water management enables the continuation of valuable research work for Indian and global markets.