February 09, 2023

Advancing Towards Sustainable Operations: Electrification of our Alumina Grains heat treatment process

At Saint-Gobain Abrasive Grains, we are committed to sustainability and improving the working conditions for our employees. That's why, when it came to producing our MA88® abrasive grain product at our Zhengzhou facility in China, we knew we needed to make a change.

Up until now, we had been using diesel as the energy source for our heat treatment process. However, diesel brings some issues, including risks in terms of chemical management and environmental impact. Our process was difficult to control, leading to wasted energy and high CO2 emissions. It also produced unpleasant odors in the workshop which can have a negative impact on the health and well-being of our workers.

To address these issues, we set ourselves an ambitious goal: to convert our energy form and improve the efficiency of our heat treatment process, all while reducing our carbon footprint and providing the best working conditions for our employees.

Teamwork at the core of our project process

To achieve this goal, our team got to work on a sustainable development path, with the aim of reducing the energy consumption of our facilities and the emissions of our products. The first step was to stop using fossil energy and retrofit our existing equipment to work with a more sustainable energy source: electricity coming from renewable energy (wind).

To make this happen, we brought together key stakeholders from across the company and assigned specific tasks to each team. Experts with electrical and maintenance backgrounds designed technical solutions, and we analyzed historical data to build a plan and take action.

After several experiments, we settled on an innovative electrical installation that allowed us to reduce material and metal use, while also giving us the ability to control and track data.

The results: increased efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved working conditions

Our workers' conditions have improved significantly, with no more odors or smoke produced, and there are no longer any hazardous chemicals, reducing safety risks.
  The system is more efficient in terms of energy usage: we will save up to 213 MWh in a full year.1
The use of electricity from renewable energy (100% wind) associated with energy efficiency will reduce our scope 1+2 greenhouse gas emissions up to 150 tons of CO2eq. for a full year.1 

Next step: Working Together for a More Sustainable Future

Looking forward, we see this as a great use case for other factories and plan on sharing our experience with others to help them take action for a more sustainable world.

With this project, we have taken a big step towards our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and we are excited to continue on this path towards a more sustainable future.

deng feng team

1calculation based on 2022 production data in comparison to a year using 100% electricity for MA88 treatment. The MA88 process conversion was done in mid-2022.