According to Tesla's "2020 Impact Report," the company has improved its plant design to reduce water withdrawal further beyond the industry average.
An interesting thing is that the strict environmental requirements in Germany pushed the company to achieve a water withdrawal level of less than 2 cubic meters/vehicle (over 2 cubic meters including battery cell production). That's more than a third less than in the case of Giga Austin.
Tesla water withdrawal intensity in vehicle manufacturing:
"...according to the latest publicly available figures, Tesla withdrew less water at facilities dedicated to vehicle manufacturing per vehicle produced than the majority of established carmakers. Furthermore, the efficient manufacturing design we are implementing at our new factories in Texas and Berlin-Brandenburg will result in further reductions in our water usage per vehicle.
Our goal is to have industry-leading low water usage per vehicle, even when accounting for cell manufacturing. The below chart includes out latest estimates for water usage per vehicle at those facilities."
If we analyze the chart carefully, we will see that both vehicle production and battery production will use a third less water in Germany than in Texas.
Another thing is that the launch of 4680-type cylindrical cell production is expected to increase the water withdrawal intensity per vehicle by about a quarter.
The company explains that the single biggest contributor to water usage in any car factory after paint operations is the "cooling tower makeup."
"As water that cools machinery evaporates, it needs to be topped up regularly. The total cooling tower makeup could be offset entirely by non-potable sources such as rainwater or wastewater."
Tesla tries to reduce water withdrawal through:
- Water intensive process optimization
At the Giga Berlin, the company will use hybrid cooling towers, eliminate quench tanks in casting, and introduce cascade rinsing system in the paint shop and battery can wash process for cell manufacturing.
- Rainwater harvesting and reuse
- Reclaimed water (wastewater reuse)
- In-house cathode production
Tesla's new production process is expected to decrease water usage by 95%.