12/8/2008

Vinnolit receives EU grant for water recycling project

Press Release
December 2008

Vinnolit receives EU grant for water recycling project

Ultra filtration of process water reduces water consumption in Knapsack by 200,000 m3 per year

Vinnolit is one of the leading PVC manufacturers in Europe and operates several production plants producing PVC and caustic soda out of the raw materials rock salt, ethylene and electricity in the Chemical Park Knapsack. In April 2008, Vinnolit Knapsack started for the first time a system in industrial scale for recycling process water from a suspension PVC plant. This project which is called “PVClean” is financially supported by the European Commission within the LIFE III programme.

"With this new technology 200,000 m3 of waste water are recycled annually" Vinnolit site manager Dr Thomas Schaefer said when introducing the project to MEP Ruth Hieronymi, MP of North Rhine-Westphalia Rita Kloepper, Deputy District Administrator Ruediger Warnecke and the Mayor of Huerth Walther Boecker on the occasion of a visit to the Chemical Park Knapsack on November 28th, 2008. The quantity of waste water is considerably reduced and the consumption of fresh water is decreased respectively. This successful development is of special interest because the suspension process is the most important process for PVC production worldwide, with a share of 90% of production capacity.

Water used for the polymerisation of PVC is separated during the continuing process and up to now was routed as waste water to the biological treatment plant. This water could not be re-used so far since the untreated waste water contains small amounts of product. Only after successful separation of these particles it can be re-used for polymerisation instead of fresh water.

"The basic principle seems to be easy, in the past, however, several attempts of PVC manufacturers failed due to technical problems and lack of economic viability" Heribert Schmitz, head of the production team S-PVC at Vinnolit Knapsack explains. "We, therefore, thank the Ministry of Environment of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Commission for the support and sponsorship of this project which is a technical breakthrough.”

The basic feasibility of an ultra filtration has been proved in preliminary tests in laboratory and pilot plant scale, and the physical chemical basics for dimensioning the plant in production scale have been worked out. The separation is accomplished by a ceramic membrane with a pore diameter of 50 nanometres (= 50 millionth mm). This allows a complete separation of the PVC particles from the waste water. The high quality standard of suspension PVC from Knapsack has been confirmed during the last 8 months of continuous operation and is acknowledged by the customers.


"Increasing resource efficiency and minimizing environmental impacts from our production are very important to Vinnolit", Managing Director Dr Ralph Ottlinger explains. "The successful transformation of process water recycling in a production scale sets new standards for water consumption of the suspension PVC process."

Thanks to the various application possibilities and excellent technical characteristics everyday life without plastics like PVC is not imaginable anymore. PVC from Knapsack is mostly used for the manufacturing of window profiles with excellent isolation characteristics as well as for pipes for potable water and sewage.



Ultrafiltration and recycling of process water from Vinnolit's suspension PVC plant at Knapsack (Foto: Vinnolit)

Editorial:

Dr Oliver Mieden, Environmental Affairs / Corporate Communications
Vinnolit GmbH & Co. KG, Carl-Zeiss-Ring 25, D-85737 Ismaning
Phone: +49 (0) 89 – 96103-208, Fax: -109, E-mail: oliver.mieden@vinnolit.com