Kansas refinery taking new approach to save water

CHS Refinery

MCPHERSON, Kan. (KWCH) – A Kansas refinery is rethinking how it accesses water for diesel and gasoline production. The CHS Refinery at McPherson is taking a different approach to saving water, utilizing wastewater instead of drawing from the Equus beds that see a lot of usage across the state.

The company said using the Equus beds as its source for getting water to produce diesel and gasoline was having an adverse effect.

“It was showing a decline of about one foot per year. It was obvious we needed to do something,” said CHS Senior Process Engineering Specialist Alan Burghart.

Burghart came up with an idea, using reclaimed, treated wastewater from the City of McPherson for the diesel and gasoline production. The City of McPherson got on board.

Using microfiltration and reverse osmosis, the water is further treated in CHS Refinery’s on-site water treatment plant, removing solids and other material before production.

“We’re saving approximately 700 gallons a minute, which equals about a million gallons a day,” Burghart said.

Since the treatment plant’s completion in 2015, the efforts are already appearing to have positive effects on the environment, with signs that the aquifer is stabilizing and recharging. As water needs continue to shift, Burghart is hopeful ingenuity to conserve the vital resource will spread.

“We’ve spent a lot of money to do what we believe was good for the environment and good for the community,” he said.

Burghart said two additional projects will reclaim the refinery’s own wastewater, saving an additional 300 gallons per minute. When completed, he estimates CHS’s production would use about 50% treated water.

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