Enertec was founded in Mexico in 1928 and today it is part of Grupo IMSA, one of the largest diversified industrial groups in Mexico. Grupo IMSA has interests in the following four product segments to meet its domestic and international customers' needs; Processed steel - IMSA ACERO; Batteries - ENERMEX; Aluminum - IMSALUM; Steel and building plastic products - IMSATEC. Through ENERMEX Grupo IMSA has signed a joint venture agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc. of the USA and Varta, AG of Germany to produce and distribute batteries throughout the Americas. This alliance has created the largest battery production capacity in Latin America . Enertec has three plants in the Nuevo Leon Region. In Monterrey there is an automated battery manufacturing plant producing 3.7 million units per annum and in Escobedo the automated battery manufacturing plant producing 4 million units per annum. The Escobedo plant is equipped with Barton Reactors for oxide production and has a computerized formation process.
Just outside Monterrey, located in Cienega de Flores is the Secondary lead plant that produced 96,000 MT of lead bullion and 9,000 MT of polypropylene last year. The plant is certified to ISO 9002 and 1400 and comprises of an MA Battery Breaker that provides feed material for six 10 MT Rotary Furnaces fired by oxygen enrichment burners. Feed to the furnaces, including flux and reducing agent is computer controlled as are the charging and tapping processes. Plant operators work from within fully air-conditioned cabins and only leave these workstations to make the necessary plant checks. Whenever the operators leave the work-stations they wear protective equipment, including face masks with filter cartridges, helmets, overalls, boots and gloves.
The plant is equipped with good ventilation and dust filteration systems to contain any fugitive emissions and in any event the whole smelting area is enclosed so that in the event of a power failure any fume emissions from the furnaces will not disperse immediately into the atmosphere. The plant operating areas, approach roads sidewalks and storage bays were all clean and tidy as were the interiors of the workstations. There was no evidence of anyone smoking, eating or drinking outside of the permitted areas.
One of the main reasons for visiting this plant was to find out what happened to the ULAB packed and sent to Enertec by Comercializadora de Baterias SA deCV in Mexico city. The batteries are transported from Mexico City by road to Cienega de Flores, a distance of nearly 800 kilometers (450 miles). On arrival the stack of used lead acid batteries (ULAB) are delivered to a special reception area and removed from the vehicle by fork truck. The vehicle is washed down with water in a special area prior to leaving the plant. The plastic wrapping is then carefully removed from stack and placed in a hazardous waste bin. As the used lead acid batteries are removed from the stack the cardboard in between the batteries is also placed in a hazardous waste container. The batteries are stored in a special isolated bunker prior to being charged to the M A Breaker. The wooden pallet (skid) is sent to a purpose built wash area to remove any trace of battery electrolyte or any other contaminant and dried ready for reuse. Wood in Mexico is expensive and a scarce resource so it is economical and environmentally responsible to recycle the wooden pallets.
Wooden Pallet or Skid
A special feature of the Enertec plant is the use of the “Green Slag” process. This carefully controlled computerized charging and smelting process for Rotary Furnaces was developed by Lead Metal Technologies Inc. of Mexico and improves the smelting of secondary lead materials using a soda ash flux to achieve a non-hazardous residue that is inert, stable and non leachable, meeting the US EPA TCLP standards for non hazardous waste. Solid residues from the Enertec plant are legally dumped in the sanitary landfill site at a tenth of the cost of using the hazardous waste tip. Enertec invested US$ 15 million to set up the infrastructure and build new research facilities for this project. In 1999 in recognition of these efforts, the Mexican Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fishing (La Secretaría de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca, SEMARNAP) awarded the company its coveted “Clean Industry Award”.