Mission “Clean Air”

Feb 08, 2018

Klingspor’s cutting-edge post-combustion plant is gentle on the environment and saves natural gas

The wasteful use of resources and the resulting environmental pollution are hot button issues around the globe. The order of the day is to design systems which, for instance, generate and utilise energy in an ever more economical, effective and environmentally compatible way. One of the systems that fits this bill is the regenerative thermal post-combustion (RTPC) plant that Klingspor built in Haiger for their abrasives production facility.

Smoke, soot, dust, gases or vapours alter the natural composition of the air, resulting in severe damage to the environment. Acute adverse health effects and long-term chronic cancerous diseases, environmental problems such as harvest shortfalls and global warming are only a few examples of the detrimental consequences that can be attributed to air pollution. According to the WHO, approx. eight million people world-wide suffer a death caused by contaminated air every year. As you might have guessed, this problem mainly vexes countries in the Third World, in Russia, the People's Republic of China and other newly industrialised countries. However, the problem also requires attention in the EU, where the fatalities (approx. 470,000 per year as of 2016) caused by pollution exceeds the victims of fatal traffic accidents. Thankfully, the climate protection measures currently put in place have proven to be effective means to alleviate the problem.

Klingspor has declared war on contaminants

In an effort to do their share for a better and healthier environment, Klingspor put into service a new regenerative post-combustion plant in August of last year. This new RTPC plant is used in the drying plants of the production facility. The sheets of abrasives dried here cover a distance of several hundred metres at temperatures in excess of 100 °C before they are wound onto large rolls and put into storage. Since the abrasives expel gases from their adhesives and varnishes while being dried, the air required for drying needs to be purified afterwards. And, this is exactly where post-combustion plants come in: The plants incinerate the contaminants contained in the waste air at nearly 850 °C before releasing the purified air into the environment. “We certainly do not want clean air, which we have taken for granted since the beginning of time, to become a luxury somewhere down the line. Everyone can make a difference in this regard. No matter how small their contribution is”, says Dr. Steffen Neu, CEO of Klingspor AG, illustrating how pressing and crucial the protection of the environment is.

A regenerative thermal post-combustion plant uses the thermal energy necessary for the combustion of the waste gases to prepare additional waste gases for combustion directly afterwards. To this end, the plant channels the purified air that is still hot from the combustion process alternately through one of three heat accumulators, which, in the process, will heat up to a temperature of almost 780 °C. The lukewarm, still non-purified air from the drying plant flows through these hot heat accumulators before entering the combustion chamber, heating up in such a way that the amount of natural gas required to complete the combustion is minuscule. The process of regenerative post-combustion harnesses more than 90 % of the required temperature from each preceding cycle.

Even cleaner than mandated

“Our goal behind this installation is to raise the bar in terms of environmental protection and energy consumption”, continues Dr. Steffen Neu, explaining the background of the project. “This plant allows us not only to cut down the consumption of natural gas but also to curtail carbon dioxide emissions, affording the environment not one but two beneficial effects.”

Last but not least, the regenerative post-combustion plant makes it possible for Klingspor to stay below the emission limit for clean air. This limit is defined as the maximum permissible amount of gaseous contaminants that may remain in the waste air following purification and is verified every three years by an independent, certified measuring institute. While applicable all across Europe, the emission limit varies between industries. In 2016, companies in the abrasives industry had to observe a limit of 20 mg of formaldehyde per cubic metre of waste air; since 2017, the limit has been tightened to 2 mg of formaldehyde per cubic metre of waste air. “Klingspor already managed to stay below the old limit with the previous post-combustion plant. Our latest RTPC plant has now allowed us to reduce the formaldehyde concentration in our waste air even further to an unprecedented 1/20 of the previous level. Better still, we have succeeded in not only complying with the applicable limit but also in staying well below it, reaching merely 50 % of the maximum permissible level and achieving a 25 % energy savings to boot”, reports Heiko Heinemann, who managed the project at Klingspor in his capacity as energy management representative.

The project had a three-year lead time as part of Klingspor’s effort to renew their existing production facilities. The objective behind the overhaul was to achieve significant cuts in natural gas consumption and reap the benefits for the environment that go along with this reduction. “Thanks to this new plant, we are well prepared for anything the future may have in store for us”, explains Steffen Schmidt, Klingspor specialist for technical equipment and installation. At present, we are at the planning stage for the next upgrades in our pipeline. After all, there is always more you can do for the environment: One project we have lined up for 2017 involves a regenerative post-combustion plant already in operation, which is in need of an overhaul and supposed to be brought up to date with the latest technology

The latest regenerative post-combustion plant set up on Klingspor's premises serves a vital purpose in terms of sustainability and energy efficiency: It cleanses the waste air generated during production from pollutants using, among other things, the thermal energy it produces itself during the combustion of the pollutants.

The thermal oil heater is used to produce the process heat needed for drying the abrasives.

The company

Klingspor has been setting global standards in abrasive technology for more than 100 years. Our production facilities manufacture more than 50,000 items that fall, among others, into the product categories of coated abra­sives, cutting-off wheels, grinding discs, abrasive mop discs, abrasive mop wheels and diamond tools and that are designed for a wide range of different applications. Spread across the globe, our 36 production and distribution locations employ a total staff of 2,700 and afford us the flexibility we need to satisfy the requirements of each regional market. Our global support and consulting team is comprised of more than 400 field representatives, engineers, and highly trained technicians.