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A Milestone for Sustainability

Interviewee

Dr. Lutz-Steffen Berghold
Project Manager Management Systems
ECKART GmbH

Published

09.09.2020

Dr. Lutz-Steffen Berghold is the responsible Project Manager Management Systems at ECKART. Until now, the company has focused on reducing energy consumption using technical measures. In the future, it will turn its attention to examining the processes in the individual plants to determine how efficiently the energy is being used in each case. The findings will contribute significantly to the development of resource-saving pigments.

 

​​​​​​​"ECKART has set itself the goal of handling resources responsibly and using them as efficiently as possible. What does this mean for the energy management department?"

We have been working to reduce our CO2 emissions since 2007 and each year we have reached our respective targets. We have also been documenting our results since 2012 using our energy management system based on ISO 50001. Over the years, we have adopted a number of technical measures to reduce energy consumption. Among the most significant of these measures was the commissioning of our cogeneration plant, which is powered by natural gas. It operates at an energy efficiency of more than 80 percent and is used to generate electricity at our Guentersthal site. We use the process heat that is generated to heat our production processes in winter and to cool them in summer. We also installed more efficient motors and LED lighting, and adopted a number of other measures. But eventually, we will have exhausted all of our technical options.

"Is this already the case?"

More or less. Optimized technology alone will not bring us any closer to our goal of producing resource-saving pigments. We need to focus on another aspect, which is energy efficiency. At the moment, we are determining our energy consumption by measuring it in kilowatt hours per kilogram of product, which we then use as a basis to calculate our CO2 emissions level. However, we think it would be much more effective to determine the relevant parameters for the production processes in question. We could then establish clear key performance indicators, which highlight the areas where we can save energy.

"What is your overarching goal?"

In the future, we will focus increasingly on the plants and processes to determine how much energy is used in each case. In other words, we want to examine how efficiently we use energy in each individual production process, and whether we can improve this level of efficiency. We also intend to use these findings to derive recommendations for our formulations in the long term. We firmly believe that this approach is a major step toward sustainable business practice. 

"Which plants or processes are high up on the list in terms of efficiency potential?"

Our metal smelters and ball mills are among the plants that consume the most energy. That is why we prioritize them in our analyses. We will also examine the electric motors, distillation processes, reactors, and air compressors as we go along. It is also worth taking a look at smaller motors that are installed in auxiliary units. If these types of motors are running continuously, they account for a significant proportion of electricity consumption. In such cases, even a small improvement to a power unit can significantly optimize its energy efficiency.

"What are you hoping to achieve with this approach?"

We want to set an individual energy efficiency target for each individual production process. To this end, we will examine the individual process steps to determine the influence they have on energy consumption. And in doing so, we hope to find a way to increase the efficiency in each case. 

"How will you go about it?"

​​​​​​​In a pilot project, we investigated our energy consumption using the aluminum paste production process in Guentersthal as an example. The initial findings identified the plant design that is best suited to certain products in terms of energy. We also think we will gain further insights into the relationship between formulations and sustainable energy use, allowing us to draw further conclusions for the production of resource-saving pigments.

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