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Messer - Geschäftsbericht 2008

Special: 44 years economic history

The mobile hydrogen filling station from Messer is indispensable for the endurance testing of a fuel cell vehicle in Switzerland.

NitroMobil by Miklós Vogel, sponsored by Messer.

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Environmental and
Climate Protection

Messer is already taking CO2 as a waste product from industrial processes and recycling it. Thus, for example, it is optimising the treatment of wastewater by providing an eco friendly alternative to the use of acids as practised in the past.

Keeping the carbon footprint as small as possible

“As a member of the worldwide community, we are committed to protecting the environment.” This statement has been part of Messer’s mission statement since 2005. Messer thus respects values that might otherwise be taken for granted, especially when public attention shifts away from climate policy again.
Carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activity has on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced. It is expressed as the emission of carbon dioxide and therefore measured in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tonnes of CO2e). Within a company’s supply chain, there are three areas that have a direct or indirect impact on the production of greenhouse gases. The first (direct) area includes such things as the use of company cars as well as the burning of fuels. The second (indirect) area includes the electricity that a business purchases to meet its needs. The third area (also indirect) concerns the production of purchased materials, outsourced activities, use of the company’s own products, employees’ business travel and waste disposal.

New targets set

In the production of industrial gases, we talk about “clean” production because there is no direct impact on soil, air or water quality. The main source of CO2 emissions is the purchase of electricity for the production of oxygen, nitrogen and argon in the air separators. Messer is aiming for a seven per cent reduction in the average specific energy consumption of its air separation plants in Europe. Increasing the range (transported tonnes of a delivered product per kilometre travelled) is another primary goal.

Resource-conserving technologies

Messer wants to cut CO2 emissions, even if the company itself does not cause them directly. The priority here is to develop technologies that help conserve resources in the customer’s process chain.

Saving energy with cryogenic gases

How to save energy the cool way is demonstrated by an application that Messer has installed at Seidel in Deutschlandsberg, Austria. The manufacturer of electronic printed circuit boards requires around a million cubic metres of nitrogen a year for the inerting of its soldering systems. Messer supplies the nitrogen in cryogenically liquefied form. When the nitrogen is released from the storage tank, it flows through a finned tube heat exchanger. There the heat of the ambient air helps heat up the liquid nitrogen and transform it into the gaseous state. Since the heat for this comes from the environment, no additional energy is required for evaporation. Considered the other way round, however, the cold content of the liquid nitrogen has been needlessly lost to the environment.

As the customer’s soldering systems require cooling brine which is prepared with an electrically powered refrigerating machine, engineers came up with the idea of using a special heat exchanger to recover energy from the refrigerating system’s brine circulation and use it for nitrogen evaporation.

Using the Cryocontrol heat exchanger developed by Messer, the cooling brine can be continuously cooled without freezing in spite of the nitrogen’s evaporation temperature of minus 196 °C. In this way, the customer saves around 40,000 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy per year (nearly equivalent to the electrical consumption of ten one-family households).

“DuoCondex”: 500,000-tonne reduction in CO2e per year

Many industrial processes produce gaseous or vaporous pollutants, however, these can be condensed through cooling with cryogenic liquefied nitrogen – the gases or vapours are liquefied and captured and therefore do not get into the atmosphere. Messer has developed the DuoCondex process for this purpose, which facilitates this kind of condensation at temperatures down to minus 160 °C. In most cases, the recovery rate is more than 99.9 per cent.

Ideally, the resulting condensate can be re-used in the production process. Sometimes the recovered substances are processed, used as fuel or destroyed in a controlled manner.

This technology from Messer is used in the recycling of more than a million cooling appliances a year, among other things. In this process, the propellants (CFCs) contained in the insulating foam of the appliances are released, then liquefied in the DuoCondex units and rendered harmless.

The DuoCondex process is also used by chemical companies. It helps them comply with emission limits while at the same time saving costs by recycling the condensed substances. The main beneficiary is the environment, as the recovery prevents around 1,000 tonnes a year of ozone-depleting substances from being released into the atmosphere, with a global warming potential of 500,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

DuoCondex: 500,000-tonne reduction in CO2e per year. (Animation)

Hydrogen filling station travels through Switzerland

Messer Schweiz is developing the first mobile hydrogen filling station for Switzerland in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA). This is taking place in connection with a pilot project in which the continuous operation of a fuel cell-powered municipal street sweeper is being tested for the first time.

The vehicle will undergo six-month operational trials in the main Swiss cities. The hydrogen, which is compressed to 350 bar, must be available at each of these locations so that the street sweeper can be filled up again after continuous eight-hour operation.

As well as presenting the concept of a mobile, fully automatic filling system with the necessary hydrogen supply and trailer, Messer Schweiz is also taking part in the safety training courses for the staff of the municipal services.

Fossil-free cars

“Vehicles of the future with alternative fuels” was the central idea of two events held in Hungary, at which young engineers had the opportunity to demonstrate and test their self-built prototypes – Messer Hungarogáz supported the vehicles that were powered by synthetic air. This was the third time that the Széchenyi race had been held on the campus of the István Széchenyi University in Győr. This year, two prototypes were powered by synthetic air from cylinders, including the Messer-sponsored NitroMobil, designed and built by construction engineer Miklós Vogel, which won the prize for the most innovative vehicle. This unique vehicle is powered by a converted Wartburg engine and three 20-litre nitrogen cylinders. This allows the NitroMobil to generate a total energy capacity of seven MJ. Two people can travel a distance of eight kilometres in it, at a maximum speed of 50 km/h.

At the Bosch-Rexroth-Pneumobil race in May, Messer Hungarogáz donated the nitrogen. Teams of students took part in this race with their air-powered prototypes.

Annual Report 2008 online: a small step towards a big goal

Doing without a printed version of the Annual Report 2008 is one of the ways in which Messer is contributing towards reducing CO2 emissions. If you add up factors such as shipment of the print run by road and air as well as production of the paper itself and compare them with the costs of online use (electricity consumption), the carbon footprint of our online annual report is 5.67 tonnes lighter than that of a comparable printed version. By way of comparison, a car that consumes an average of approximately 0.134 kg of CO2 equivalent (diesel, source: Probas/IFEU 2002) per person per km could travel a distance of 42,313 kilometres with the 5.67 tonnes of CO2 that has been saved.

Der gedruckte Messer-Geschäftsbericht 2007 hatte eine CO2-Bilanz von 7,53 Tonnen. Die Online-Version des Jahres 2008 kommt auf 1,86 Tonnen. Unter dem Strich werden also 5,67 Tonnen CO2 eingespart – das entspricht der Menge an CO2, die ein Kleinwagen bei einer Weltumrundung ausstoßen würde.*

CO2 saving thanks to online version of the Annual Report 2008. (Animation)

* Based on 3,200 print copies, including production and worldwide distribution in comparison with electricity consumption of 3,200 users, each viewing the online report on the Internet for an hour. Runabout with the consumption equivalent of approx. 0.134 kg CO2 per kilometer. (Calculation by Forest Finance Service GmbH)


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