Heta Verfahrenstechnik in Lich, Germany, is highly specialized in the filtration and separation of liquids and gases according using state-of-the-art technology and beyond. The company has been a member of the Paco Group since 2010. Alongside the holding company Paco , Heta is one of the last manufacturers that offer complete filters. Their constant focus is on customer needs and many years of experience make them to specialists in the area. They offer the complete package – consulting, design and engineering, manufacturing, in-house manufactured filter elements, start up and after-sales service and – everything is made in Germany. The global innovation came out in 2018 – the intelligent smart controller 4.0. Heta Filtra-Smart for smart filtration is the future of efficient process plants.
Heiko Hensel, Technical Director of Heta was primarily responsible for the development and market launch of the Heta 4.0 Automatic Filter Controlling System. The controller is an intelligent and digitally networked control system for process monitoring. It is able to determine and manage all filtration parameters via touch panel or to use a network connection via internet, mobile phone, tablet, notebook etc. Automatic measurement, monitoring, evaluation and documentation of all results can easily be transmitted to Microsoft Word & Excel. The system is able to self-adapt to the process and unplanned downtimes can thus be avoided. Maintenance intervals can be controlled and determined, consequential damages will be avoided and a long lifetime is guaranteed. The Heta 4.0 Filter Controlling System has already proven its reliability and high performance in a chemical industry plant; patent is pending.
Biogas Plant for Greek Abattoir
Efficient Bioenergy Generation from Animal Waste
In the summer of 2020, the German plant manufacturer Weltec Biopower will start building a biogas plant in Veria, northern Greece. The main investor and operator of the project is one of the largest abattoirs for cattle and pigs in Greece. The 500-kW plant – which Weltec has planned in collaboration with its Greek partner Tetoros Machinery in Megara – is set to go live as early as mid-November 2020.
For many years, a lot of animal waste has accumulated in the north of Greece. According to the Greek research institute CRES, the waste from animal husbandry and slaughtering throughout Greece amounts to 17.5 million t/year. This corresponds to a potential biogas capacity of approximately 370 MW. The capacity currently installed in Greece is only about 83 MW.
The new Weltec plant in Veria will make use part of these resources for the generation of energy. The anaerobic digestion process will mainly use cattle manure and meat processing leftovers. Apart from these substrates, the 4,903-m3 stainless-steel digester will also be fed with production wastewater and fats. The input substances will come from the operator’s own abattoir and farms as well as from farmers in the vicinity.
The highly efficient digestion will start with a customised input process. For this purpose, the substrates will first be loaded into a 60-m3 moving floor feeder. The feeder will transport solid substrates, such as orange peels, to the Multi-Mix unit, where they will shredded and then pumped to the digester. Liquid substrates will be pumped directly into the digester from two storage units. “Following the digestion process, the entire digestate will be treated in a downstream hygienisation unit”, explains Alain Priser, International Sales Manager at Weltec Biopower.
Meanwhile, Greek investors are looking for such custom-tailored plants in order to make profitable and climate-neutral use of the wide variety of raw materials. This is the only way how the share of renewable energies in the power generation can be doubled from the current level of 30 percent to 60 percent in 2030. This target was defined in National Energy and Climate Plan 2021 to 2030 (NECP) adopted by Greece. An intermediate step will be to shut down 14 coal-fired power plants in the next five years. Besides natural gas, renewable energies are to play a key role in closing the resulting power supply gap.
In the coming decade, Greece will invest some €9 billion in such plants. During this period, the installed biogas and biomass utilisation capacity is expected to triple. In this process, new laws are to provide investment security. “The Greek power grid operators will be required to preferentially connect these plants to the grid, purchase their electricity and pay defined minimum prices”, explains Weltec’s Greek partner John Tetoros. Tetoros Machinery and Weltec Biopower have collaborated in the Greek energy reform since 2007. With a portfolio of 18 plants and extensions that they have set up, they are the market leader for biogas plants in Greece. Based on the concept of the latest plant in Veria, more plants are likely to be added to the portfolio.
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Coperion and Aurora Kunststoffe
Profitable Recycling and Upcycling with ZSK Extruders
Aurora Kunststoffe, a company located in Neuenstein and since end of 2019 member of MOL Group, is demonstrating how plastic processors’ production waste can be recycled and upcycled profitably. This producer of recompounds uses rejected parts accumulated from plastic components manufacturing as primary raw material and processes it into recycled, new-product-quality plastic compounds. After a major fire in their production area in 2017, Aurora Kunststoffe decided once again to rely on ZSK twin screw extruders from Coperion. Those three ZSK 45 Mc18 twin screw extruders have been in successful operation since early 2019, and with their high throughputs and their reliability, they have fulfilled every requirement that Aurora Kunststoffe needs for their innovative business plan.
Technology for First-Rate Compounds
In manufacturing technical plastic parts, typically there is approximately a five percent rejection rate. Aurora Kunststoffe purchases this production waste, then examines the precise composition and varietal purity. Once they pass quality control, the single-variety plastic parts are ground, fed into the compounding process and pelletized. The result is pellets mainly based on PA6, PA66, PA11, PA12, POM, PP, PC, and PC-ABS. To accomplish this, Aurora Kunststoff relies on Coperion ZSK technology. Within the ZSK twin screw extruders, the ground material is reliably homogenized with additives, fillers and reinforcing materials and devolatilized. To this end, Coperion designed each of these three ZSK 45 extruders individually for Aurora Kunststoffe’s requirements, equipping them with ZS-EG twin screw side devolatilization units and special wear protection for product-contact parts. Following melt discharge from the die head at the end of the extruder’s process section, plastic strands are taken over by semiautomatic SCP 200 strand conveying systems from Coperion Pelletizing Technology. They are automatically conveyed via a cooling water chute and a conveyor belt to the strand pelletizer’s feed mechanism, where they are cut to compounds whose quality corresponds to that of new material. Noted Norbert Büter, Coperion Sales Manager, “When recycling plastics, it is necessary to adapt the process parameters and recipes to the various raw materials. With their flexibility and high torques, ZSK twin screw extruders are optimally suited for processing even the most difficult raw materials to very good product quality – and they do it at throughputs that are economical. By devolatilizing using ZS-EGs, not only are unwanted gases removed; operational safety of the entire vacuum system is increased. This applies especially to even very volatile viscosities.”
In 2017, a large fire at Aurora Kunststoffe destroyed the entire production area. Aurora Kunststoffe held fast to its successful sustainability concept, even expanding it after the fire. New twin screw extruders began operation in a new, larger space in 2019. In meeting such a tight deadline, Aurora Kunststoffe relied on close collaboration with their suppliers. Alexander Schweinle, Head of Production at Aurora Kunststoffe, is particularly proud of this: “Coperion delivered not just three ZSK 45 extruders that were individually designed for us, and the appropriate strand pelletizers, but they also supported us with the engineering necessary for the entire production. I would like to emphasize the really good collaboration between our two companies: Coperion consistently reacts to our inquiries quickly and knowledgeably, which was key during our production’s rebuilding phase.”
Successful Recycling Concept
Production waste from industrial plastics manufacturing is becoming more and more valuable in times of rising raw materials prices and increased environmental pollution. Aurora Kunststoffe buys these industrial by-products and turns them into high-quality raw materials that are used in the automotive, construction, furniture and electronics industries.
Plastic waste comes to Aurora as part of its unique Aurora-Lean-Logistics concept, consisting of Aurora’s own fleet of about 60 semi-trailers and a box concept for perfecting single-origin collection. At Aurora, materials are ground and processed into recompounds by means of extrusion. With this process, Aurora Kunststoffe achieves throughputs of up to 650 kg/h on their ZSK 45 twin screw extruders. Per day, Aurora Kunststoffe produces over 50 tons of compounds. For the future, Aurora anticipates increasing demand. “I am certain that sooner or later, there will be a legally mandated recycling quota”, said Schweinle.
Jochen Schofer, Business Segment Manager, Recycling & Direct Extrusion at Coperion added: “We’re convinced that becoming circular is unavoidable for the plastics industry.” To that end, there is still plenty of room for improvement. In Germany, the share of recyclate used in plastics processing in 2017 only achieved a bit more than 12%. Aurora Kunststoffe, in contrast, is taking an absolutely leading role for us; their company concept is not only profitable, it’s sustainable too! We’re proud to support Aurora Kunststoffe with our compounding and engineering know-how!”
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Bilfinger to become a DFKI shareholder
Bilfinger, through its subsidiary Bilfinger Digital Next, is joining the group of shareholders of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). The DFKI is an industry-focused research institute in the field of innovative software technologies incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and is considered one of the most important “Centers of Excellence” in the international scientific community. The purpose of the stake is to develop innovative solutions based on AI for the process industry. Bilfinger is the first industrial services provider in the DFKI shareholder group, which also includes companies like Google, Microsoft and SAP. Franz Braun, CEO of Bilfinger Digital Next: “Artificial intelligence technologies give companies in the process industry groundbreaking new opportunities to manage and maintain their plants with a greater degree of efficiency and effectiveness. Plant operators can generate substantial competitive advantages using AI. We want to demonstrate these possibilities to our customers and support them with future-oriented solutions based on the broad range of advantages delivered by artificial intelligence”.
Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, CEO and Chairman of the DFKI Management Board: “We are pleased to be taking the next step towards a lasting partnership on the basis of the success we have enjoyed in our joint project work to date. Bilfinger’s commitment attests to our cooperation and underscores the industrial relevance of the work DFKI researchers are doing. DFKI’s circle of shareholders will be strengthened by the addition of an ambitious industrial services provider, with whom we plan to continue implementing the results of AI research into products and solutions for the process industry”.
Bilfinger has been collaborating successfully with the DFKI for some time on the development of digital solutions for the process industry. Joint developments that have been launched on the market include PIDGraph, a software for the digitalization of plant documentation. Through the application of AI methods, the software is able to digitalize piping and instrument flow diagrams (P&I diagrams) that are only available in paper or PDF formats. The symbols, texts and lines of the diagrams are converted into a digital format with the help of neural networks trained to recognize patterns. The software records the corrections made by the user and thus continuously improves itself. The digital formats created by PIDGraph can be processed by any modern engineering and asset management system, thereby forming the basis for creating “digital twins” of industrial plants, for example. The digitalization of P&I diagrams is not only significantly cheaper with PIDGraph, but also much faster than conventional methods.
“The AI algorithms recognize the complex elements in the plant diagrams, analyze them, assign them semantically, making them readable for the computer. PIDGraph shows how mature AI methods can comprehend complex corporate knowledge and make it available for digital use,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Dengel, who started the cooperation with Bilfinger and leads the research area Smart Data & Knowledge Services at the DFKI.