"It's many times more efficient than the old plant, uses state-of-the-art technology and is extremely environmentally friendly," is how project manager Klaus-Guido Ruwier (Head of Ceramic Materials Production) describes the new flue gas scrubbing plant.
The investment was necessary because the old scrubber dating from 1983 had reached its capacity limit due to more and more kilns being commissioned.
The ultra-modern cascade absorber was constructed in just eight weeks on a recently acquired plot of land where railway tracks used to be behind the ceramic materials production buildings. Unlike the old wet scrubber, which used lime slurry for cleaning the flue gases, it uses lime chips instead. This is an efficient, thoroughly environmentally friendly technique, whereby the spent filter material is continually recycled and fed back into the loop so that the minimal amount of waste material generated can be simply disposed of as general waste.
All six of the high-performance kilns currently operated by the company in this area can be connected to the new plant simultaneously. 300 metres of pipe with an impressive internal diameter of 140 cm had to be installed for this purpose alone. The new plant can be operated continuously with no downtime. Maintenance work and repairs are performed – if necessary – during live operation. The most conspicuous part of the new technology is without doubt the 35-metre-tall chimney, from which the cleaned flue gases will escape in future. The authorities stipulate that the water vapour must contain less than 5 mg/m³ of hydrogen fluoride. As such, following commissioning in August 2018, measurements will first be made by TÜV Rheinland and these will be scrutinised by SGD Nord before the Steuler Group is issued an operating license for the new plant. The scrubbing performance and proper operation of the cascade scrubber will be subsequently checked by the authorities on a regular basis.
The new cascade absorber is just one of numerous investments the industrial manufacturer is making at its Westerwald sites. Since start of this year alone, the dust extraction system and Koller extrusion system were brought up to date, a new hydraulic press purchased and the weighing process optimised. A new autoclave building is being constructed in Siershahn and Mogendorf is currently making preparations for the arrival of Kera production. The company is investing a great deal of money in the Breitscheid site too, including for the purchase of a big bag discharger, a mixer and two pre-drawing presses for plastic manufacturing.
These huge capital investments are made possible thanks to the Steuler Group's healthy turnover, which amounted to over 434 million euros in the previous business year 2017.