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Life Science
Bioprocessing Facility of the Future

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Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals
Merck Accelerates Readiness of Bioprocessing Facility of the Future
Picture: Merck

Merck, a science and technology company, unveiled the next component of its Bio Continuum Platform, the Bio4C Software Suite, creating a first-of-its-kind ecosystem that combines process control, analytics and plant-level automation. This transformative software suite will allow users to look across the entire manufacturing process versus individual operational units, giving biomanufacturers complete process control and deep insights, bringing Bioprocessing 4.0 to the here and now.

“The future of bioprocessing is holistic,” said Andrew Bulpin, head of Process Solutions, Life Science, at Merck. “With the launch of our Bio4C Software Suite, Merck is the first supplier to converge advanced process technologies with software, automation and analytics into one ecosystem, bringing us another step closer to making the digitally enabled facility of the future a reality.”
Biopharmaceutical companies today are under immense pressure to get products to market faster, with every day of delay costing millions in lost revenue. An emerging solution is the integration of software, automation and analytics into biomanufacturing facilities’ operations to intensify biologic production, with a vision toward connected and continuous processing. The biopharmaceutical industry is on a journey to evolve and digitize the next generation of bioprocessing to increase speed and lower costs. Bioprocessing 4.0 signifies this new approach to manufacturing. The Life Science business of Merck has been a key driver of this evolution through its Bio Continuum Platform.

Merck’s Bio4C Suite was designed based on the “4C strategy” of its Life Science business: control, connect, collect and collaborate. Control is the basis of everything Merck does to run all of its systems. Connect refers to making digital connections between different process steps and giving that visibility to the entire process. Collect is the ability to gather all data into one place and maintain and validate the integrity of that data. Collaborate is how Merck will deliver these technologies to its customers in real time.

Bio4C ProcessPad, part of the “Collect” dimension of the Bio4C Suite, is a browser-based platform that allows users to acquire, aggregate and analyze data from disparate sources such as equipment, batch records, databases and historians across the bioprocess. The Bio4C ProcessPad automates the data acquisition and analysis tasks, freeing scientists and engineers to minimize the time to decision and action. Merck will roll out further Bio4C Software Suite products and modules throughout 2020 and into the future.

Biotechnology Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

France
Aalborg Energie Technik secures Order

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Image: Aalborg Energie Technik

Aalborg Energie Technik a/s (AET) will assist Novawood in achieving cleaner air and preventing soil contamination in addition to providing a commercial income from waste wood and railway sleepers, which were previously seen as a waste product.

By building a biomass-fired cogeneration plant, Novacarb aims to improve its environmental performance while maintaining its competiveness. In partnership with ENGIE Solutions a dedicated company has been created: Novawood.

The high-efficient cogeneration plant, Novawood, will produce steam for the Novacarb site in Laneuveville-devant-Nancy and power for the grid by combusting waste products. ENGIE Solutions will, as main contractor, arrange fuel collection from two sources: Railway sleepers from the French national railway company (SNCF) and waste wood from SOVEN.

The plant is in accordance with ENGIE Solutions’ strategy to support industries by providing them with solutions to the challenge of the energy transition. Their goal is to achieve: Optimised use of resources, increased supply and use of local, green energy as well as a more environmentally friendly production.

Novacarb is part of the Mineral Specialties division of the SEQENS group and specialises in the production and marketing of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate. Production has taken place for more than 160 years at this site and the products are made from two natural raw materials: Limestone extracted from its quarry in Pagny-sur-Meuse and salt from its Lénoncourt salt farms.

Novacarb’s goal with Novawood is to reduce the site’s dependence on the highly polluting coal by approx. 40% and reduce the CO2 emissions by 150,000 tonnes per year. With an investment of 80 mEUR, the biomass-fired cogeneration plant will supply steam for their production plant and it will also supply 115 GWh of green electricity per year to the national electricity network, corresponding to an annual consumption at around 65,000 households.

Energy will be produced from combusting two fuels: waste wood and railway sleepers. Waste wood, which is sourced through collection centres, consisting of e.g. scrapped furniture, floors, doors, windows and pallets and is handled by SOVEN. By combusting old railway sleepers a new business area is being created and the modernisation of the National Rail Network owned by SNCF can be made in an environmentally friendly way.

The fuel transformation is also an economic aspect for Novacarb, as the gradually increasing carbon tax price affects the competitiveness of the company. As a major local work place, it directly employs 300 people and 150 people from outside companies, who are permanently on site. Novacarb’s activity generates 900 local jobs, or a total employment pool of around 1,350 people. The Novawood project will help develop the region’s economy and attractiveness through the creation and sustainability of local jobs. The project will be a benchmark in terms of energy transition, circular economy and local job creation.

The Novawood project began in 2014 with talks between the parties (Novacarb, ENGIE Solutions and SNCF), followed by discussions at local and national levels. The operating authorisation was obtained in MAR 2018, and the project was announced as a winner of CRE 5 in DEC 2019.

The plant will annually combust around 130,000 tonnes of railway sleepers and waste wood, which would otherwise have been disposed of, and instead produce 55 tonnes steam/hour to Novacarb and 14,6 MWe of green electricity for export to the grid.

The railway sleepers contain creosote, PAH compounds and other chemicals from trains and are classified as hazardous waste. The creosote, which is tar containing phenolic compounds, can evaporate from the surface and/or be released into the soil. The waste wood in this case, includes Chromated Copper Arsenate treated wood, and therefore has, amongst other things, a high content of Copper. However, the combination of AET Combustion System, AET Biomass Boiler and flue gas cleaning ensures very low emissions, which comply with the European emission limits as a minimum. The plant is designed in accordance with WID.

The AET Biomass Boiler will be designed for a fuel heat input of 65 MWt, a boiler efficiency of 92% and a steam temperature of 522 oC, which ensure a high overall plant efficiency. To protect the boiler against corrosion it is equipped with Inconel cladding and special alloy steel for the superheaters.

AET is responsible for engineering, procurement and construction of the AET Biomass Boiler, including AET Combustion System, AET SNCR DeNOx System, boiler house, flue gas treatment, tail-end heat exchanger and PLC control system. The tail-end heat exchanger, which is positioned after the flue gas treatment, cools the flue gas temperature by more than 30 oC. The regenerated energy is, amongst other things, used at an ORC plant, which produces power. It thereby increases the overall plant efficiency further.

The in-house power consumption for the boiler plant is only approx. 1,6% of the fuel heat input and thereby increases the net power production.

The plant is planned to start power generation in the second half of 2022.

Alain Guillerme, Project Realization Director, Novawood: “As every industrial customer, NOVACARB requires a reliable steam supply and a high boiler availability. ENGIE has several AET Biomass Boilers in its portfolio, being operated for years. The experience from these sites is very good with low maintenance issues. In addition, the AET design offers high efficiencies, which is a critical criteria for an industrial plant operating all along the year. Lastly, the good experience we had with the AET project management has convinced ENGIE Solutions to sign with them for the Novawood project.”

“We are pleased to continue the cooperation with ENGIE Solutions and now with combustion of railway sleepers and waste wood; waste wood is an up-coming fuel in France. The high steam temperature, with combustion of railway sleepers and waste wood in this case, is essential to make a viable business case for ENGIE Solutions and Novacarb. At AET, we are very happy to take a new step with Novawood, which will reduce CO2 emissions by 150.000 tonnes per year”, says CEO of AET Lars Kristensen.

AET has previously supplied plants, which burns waste wood/railway sleepers in Germany, Austria and United Kingdom.

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Biotechnology Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Regenerative storage power plant
ETW Energietechnik expands biogas plant

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ETW Wehrbleck
Image: ETW

In Wehrbleck in Lower Saxony, the company ETW Energietechnik from Moers expanded an agricultural biogas plant into a regenerative storage power plant in 2019. The CHP experts were supported by the planning company Energethik from Osnabrück. In addition to the new Flex CHP with the TCG 2020 V20 biogas engine from MWM with 2 megawatts, electric and 2.3 megawatts, thermally, ETW also installed a combined gas storage tank with 8,490 and a heat storage tank with 1,000 cubic metres. The total investment amounts to 1.6 million euros.

Since 2001, farmer Andreas Rohlfs has been operating a biogas plant with an area of around 235 hectares. Based on the input materials maize, dung and liquid manure, the operator generated around 5.4 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy and 4.1 million kilowatt hours of thermal energy before the expansion. Since its expansion into a storage power plant, the plant now produces 5.7 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy and almost 5.8 million kilowatt hours of heat per year. The electricity is fed into the grid; the waste heat is fed into a district heating network for heating private and municipal buildings and is used to dry wood chips. Part of the heat is diverted to keep the engine warm when it is not running. This allows the direct marketer to quickly restart the engine if necessary and immediately access the full output of the CHP.

In addition to the increase in output, the plant now operates flexibly. In return, Rohlfs will earn an additional flexibility surcharge of 40 euros per kilowatt over the next five years. Afterwards, the farmer can optionally apply for a further ten-year EEG payment by means of a tender. His main advantage: thanks to the Flex CHP, his plant is now operated in such a way that electricity and heat can always be fed in at the most productive time of day. For this purpose, the biogas plant is controlled by a direct marketer in such a way that the storage tanks are always optimally filled when prices are at their highest and that the largest possible quantities of electricity and heat are available for this purpose.

The plant is powered by desulphurised biogas. For this purpose, the sulphur content is conditioned down from around 5,000 parts per million (ppm) to around 2 ppm. A safety alarm with integrated stop of the gas supply to the storage protects the CHP at a sulphur content above 2 ppm. This is particularly necessary because the sulphur content can rise faster in flex operation. After the preventive shutdown, operation of the engine is maintained with the gas from the storage tank.

„In order to be prepared for future NOx limits, ETW has already reserved the necessary space on the CHP container for an SCR catalytic converter. The plans also take into account a reserve for exhaust back pressure,“ explains Alexander Szabo, the responsible sales manager at ETW Energietechnik.

The variation of the substrate quantities also contributes to the flexibility of the CHP operation. This makes it possible to reduce biogas production at low electricity prices so that the CHP unit can be shut down for up to two days if necessary without overloading the gas storage tank. The heat storage tank can store 40,600 kilowatt hours of thermal energy and thus supply the heating network for around 50 hours without the CHP unit having to be put into operation. The bottom line is that the CO2 savings achieved by the regenerative storage power plant in electricity production can be estimated at 2,683 tonnes per year and in heat production, including process heat, at around 1,300 tonnes.

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Biotechnology News Pharmaceuticals Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Two additional production halls
Expansion of capacities for the production of consumables

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Eppendorf significantly expands capacities for the production of consumables
Picture: Eppendorf

The Eppendorf Group is expanding its production capacity at the Oldenburg in Holstein site in Germany by building two additional production halls. As a result, Eppendorf Polymere GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eppendorf AG, will increase its total capacity by around 30 percent from 2021. A milestone for this targeted expansion was reached May 14, 2020 with the topping-out ceremony for the second hall currently under construction. The first hall has already been completed and will start production operations this month.

In Oldenburg, Eppendorf produces laboratory consumables made of high-quality plastic such as pipette tips and tubes, microtiter plates and single-use bioreactor vessels. Currently, these products are in particularly high demand from diagnostic laboratories and vaccine manufacturers around the world who are researching vaccines against the corona virus or carrying out Sars Cov-2 tests.

“We are registering a steady increase in demand for consumables from Eppendorf. The current global battle against the corona virus is just reinforcing this trend,” says Dr. Wilhelm Plüster, Chief Technology Officer at Eppendorf AG. “With the construction of the two new production halls we are responding to this trend, which has been continuing for years. In addition, sustainability was taken into account in the construction of the buildings.” continues Plüster. The two production halls will be heated and cooled by an existing combined heat and power plant. This will considerably reduce energy consumption.

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