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Messer - Geschäftsbericht 2008

Special: 44 years economic history
An innovative CO2 application from Messer facilitates micropelletisation of highly viscous liquids.

 
Optimum preparation for painting: snow blasting with dry ice snow removes release agents, dirt and grease residues.

 
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New technologies and
gas applications

Patents and Inventions

The results from the Messer Group’s development projects continue to be translated into patent applications in a systematic way. In 2008, there were a total of 20 invention disclosures relating to new gas processes. Fifteen inventions have been submitted to the Patent Office.

Burner development for flameless combustion

As part of an Austrian Research Promotion Agency-supported project lasting several years, new flameless combustion burners were developed for use in furnaces. This process facilitates a more even temperature distribution in the furnace. The new burners are designed for use with pure oxygen as well as a mixture of air and oxygen. When used with pure oxygen without any nitrogen influx, they also facilitate a significant reduction in NOx emissions.

The final stage of the development project was to adapt the burners to specific applications and successfully implement them. When the new type of burner was used in a lead smelting plant, it led to a significant reduction in the consumption of natural gas in the rotary furnace. In an anode furnace that is used for refining copper scrap, the new burners have made it possible to reduce the NOx content in the flue gas significantly. And at a plant that produces basalt fibres, this burner technology achieved the required homogeneous temperature distribution in the furnace.

Micronisation of liquids and pastes

The experts from Messer have developed a process that facilitates the micropelletisation of highly viscous liquids. This involves the use of rotating nozzles. The atomised product is cooled with cryogenic gases in order to achieve a more rapid crystallisation of the particles and thus reduce the size of the spray towers. An additional injection of CO2 facilitates a further reduction in particle size by virtue of the expanding gas, allowing very fine droplets to be produced.

The new process completes the spectrum of particle sizes that can be produced from liquid or pasty media using cryogenic processes: the various versions of the Variosol process, micropelletisation and traditional drop pelletisation make it possible to achieve particle sizes between 1 and 6,000 μm.

Fluidised bed combustion with pure oxygen

The environmental impact of CO2 emissions from industrial incineration plants is a topical subject. Currently there are numerous proposals and even some pilot projects aimed at lessening the resulting impact on our climate. One possible technical solution is to capture CO2 from the combustion flue gas and store it in underground reservoirs, for example. A significant element of this approach is the combustion with pure oxygen, which results in highly concentrated CO2 in the flue gas – without the usual nitrogen load.

Messer is making its contribution to this important set of issues through a special technology: so-called fluidised bed combustion with pure oxygen. This technology is predominantly used in small and medium-sized power plants and incineration plants for waste or sewage sludge.

As part of a project supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), a pilot plant has been built in the competence centre in Gumpoldskirchen with the aim of examining just how suitable combustion with oxygen is for this process. In the first step, coal is being used as a fuel and examined. After that, there will also be tests with various non-fossil fuels.

CO2 recovery and permanent storage

The capture and permanent storage of CO2 from combustion processes (sequestration) is at the heart of a project that Messer France is working on in collaboration with other partners under the auspices of ANR (Agence National de la Recherche). The aim is to look at the technical design of the repositories and, in particular, the lining of the boreholes, through which the captured CO2 is to be pumped into exhausted gas or oil reservoirs. Tests are being carried out to determine the resistance of various materials (steel, concrete) to the aggressive contents of the raw CO2. This will allow conclusions to be drawn about the longevity of the sequestration.

As part of this project, Messer France and Messer Austria supplied special gas mixtures which allow the composition of the flue gases to be shown and the chemical and physical interaction with the construction materials to be simulated. Afterwards these measurement results will be compared with the calculations from a theoretical simulation.

The insights gained from this project will have a significant bearing on the design of future sequestration projects.

Pollutant-reducing shielding gas mixtures

Emissions from cutting and welding are continually subjected to new limits. In order to comply with these limits, it is necessary to modify the usual welding processes, in particular through the use of suitable shielding gases for welding.

In collaboration with the University of Hanover, Messer has demonstrated that shielding gases for welding can be used to influence emissions of nitric oxides, carbon monoxide and iron oxide. This fact had already been demonstrated for MAG welding of non-alloy and low-alloy steels with flux-cored wire and solid wire.

A similar effect has now also been achieved for MAG welding of high-alloy steels. Other harmful substances such as nickel oxide and chromium oxide occur in this group of materials, whose emissions can also be influenced through the selection of shielding gases.

Pre-treatment of plastic components for painting

Plastic components in the automotive sector must be cleaned prior to painting. Until now this has been done with water, followed by energy-intensive drying. The disadvantage with this method is that tiny water droplets that remain in the corners and recesses of the plastic components result in rejects and loss of quality.

As part of a special research project, the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin examined whether the new snow blasting method with dry ice snow is suitable for this task. With snow blasting, dry ice is produced from carbonic acid in so-called cold burners and applied to the surface to be cleaned using compressed air. The dry ice microparticles completely remove any release agents and dirt left over from the production process as well as any grease residues.

Messer’s involvement in this project contributed towards setting the parameters for the gas supply, thereby enabling reproducible results to be achieved with due consideration for economic and environmental factors.

“Unsticking” the “stickies” using ice

In the recycling of used paper, book-binding adhesives and post-it notes continually impair quality due to their tendency to stick to the machinery during the drying process, causing the paper to tear easily. To date, glue residues or “stickies” have been removed using chemicals. Now Messer has patented a new and innovative, eco-friendly process: during recycling, liquid carbon dioxide is added to the pulp where it turns into dry ice, enabling the frozen adhesive to be separated out without causing any damage.


 

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