No more emissions

Zero discharge, closed loop systems.

It is 30 years since Vilokan created the first factory in Sweden to have zero discharge to sewer. There have been hundreds more facilities since then…

The best way to protect the world’s water from effluent is to not release any wastewater into the environment. Sweden has long been a pioneer internationally in the field of water treatment and environmental technologies. Volvo and other major Swedish companies have assumed key leadership roles and shown that new ways of thinking can bring new opportunities.

It was for Volvo in Sweden that Vilokan created the very first factory with a zero discharge to sewer system back in the mid-1990s. It marked the start of a growing awareness of the impacts of business activity in the engineering industry, followed shortly by the pharmaceutical industry. The aerospace and food industries were also pioneers. 

To date, Vilokan has been responsible for setting up more than 500 zero discharge treatment systems in over 20 countries.

And is also continuously developing and improving the pioneering Volvo’s facility. The treatment process and the closed-loop system have led to a series of other improvements and efficiency gains. One discovery is that the cleaned, recirculated water prevents corrosion problems. This increases the useful life of the equipment and reduces the need for servicing.

Being a forward-thinking company with a focus on sustainability can often bring a host of unexpected benefits.

The de-icing fluids that are sprayed on aircraft before take-off are detrimental to the environment. Glycol, the main component of these products, requires enormous amounts of oxygen to degrade. It causes harm to the natural environment, especially watercourses. The spent anti-icing and de-icing fluids that run off the aircraft also contain cadmium and heavy metals. Far from all airports manage spent aircraft de-icing fluids in a responsible manner. Many allow these contaminants to flow directly into the natural environment.

As much as 1,000 litres of glycol are sometimes needed for just one airplane. In other words, a minor ecological disaster is taking place all day, every day, all year round. Thankfully, more and more airports around the world are now collecting these waste fluids. However, they are usually seen as a problem and the fluids are transported to external wastewater treatment plants in heavy freight vehicles. At the same time, copious amounts of new freshwater are constantly required for mixing with newly produced glycol so that the next aircraft can be de-iced. A never-ending cycle of consumption and waste.

The technology to prevent all this waste and create a closed-loop system at airports is available.

Making it possible to collect spent de-icing fluids, clean the water on site, and recycle the valuable, yet environmentally hazardous, elements. The resulting clean water and recycled glycol can be mixed to make new de-icing fluid, which can be collected and cleaned and become new de-icing fluid. Over and over and over again.

The Vilokan Group has a whole division dedicated to these solutions, Vilokan ADF, which is currently responsible for the management of 15 airports in northern Europe, the United States and Canada. 

The technology exists, the gains have been demonstrated – all that is required is the will and determination to act.