An often unknown, but significant, branch of Merit Medical is Merit Sensor, a division responsible for creating silicon-based piezoresistive pressure sensors. These sensors, also known as MEMS pressure sensors, are used in multiple industries and are crucial to the function of many technologies. The challenge? Its on-site manufacturing requires a large amount of water.
A priority at Merit is to reduce overall water intensity through programs and initiatives that advance toward more efficient use. As part of these sustainability efforts, Merit Sensor implemented a water-conservation initiative that recycles approximately 65% of the water used in the manufacturing process.
“MEMS pressure sensors measure change in electrical resistance when pressure is applied. This regulation helps the final product work properly, keeping consumers safe,” explained Rick Russell, president at Merit Sensor. “They’re used in numerous medical devices but are also found in other industries, including transportation, industrial, and aerospace.”
“There are acids and bases involved in this process,” Russell said. “Large quantities of wastewater result, and this water needs to be treated before discharged into the sewers.”
According to Russell, the first step in the recycling process is treating the wastewater to neutralize the acids and bases. The water is then passed through a reverse-osmosis system. This system forces the water through a semipermeable membrane to remove ions, resulting in clean water.
“The clean water is then transferred to another tank and recycled to make more MEMS pressure sensors,” Russell explains. “Any water discharge that can’t be reused is still cleaner, safer, and easier for the sewer to process.”
In past years, producing sensors required about 622,000 gallons of water per month on average. By recycling 65% of the wastewater, Merit Sensor’s new water-recycling initiative reduces that amount by more than 400,000 gallons per month.
Water conservation efforts are a community priority in Utah, where drought continues to impact the state. In response, Merit has looked for ways to reduce company water use. For example, the team at corporate headquarters set in motion a xeriscaping project that saves approximately four million gallons of water each year. Russell and his team at Merit Sensor believe water-saving initiatives are positive steps that will only lead to improved measures.
“We are currently working on upgrading the efficiency of this system to increase the amount of water recycled to ninety percent,” Russell said. “If the current system works well throughout the rest of this year, we will continue to look for more innovative ways to improve.”
At Merit, we understand and recognize our responsibility to the future by being a good corporate citizen. Explore more of our environmental sustainability efforts.