Future-capable automation facilitates power-to-X

Power-to-X processes can buffer the peaks and troughs in the productivity of renewable energy generators. Green hydrogen is therefore a key component of the transition to the “All Electric Society”. Absolute safety has to be united with efficiency and economy when automating all of the technology necessary for this – from electrolyzers, through pipelines and storage systems, all the way to the fuel cells. Digitalisation, modular designs, and scalability are supported through state-of-the-art concepts.

The weather catastrophes of the past few months have once again made the climate crisis the focus of attention. Not least because of this, the energy transition is gaining increasing acceptance. The future vision of the All Electric Society, in which carbon-neutrally generated electricity dominates the power supply, is often discussed as a solution. A fundamental part of the All Electric Society concept is renewably generated electrical energy – from the power of the sun, for example – that is converted into storable energy. This is precisely where power-to-X technologies come into play. The surplus electricity generated by the respective systems – for example, when solar radiation is high, when winds are strong, or when there is an oversupply of water – is used to produce fuels (power-to-fuel), hydrogen (power-to-gas), ammonia, methanol, or other chemicals. Within the framework of the All-Electric-Society concept, some of the agents produced in this way are in turn used to generate electrical energy again; that is to say, they take on the role of an energy store that buffers the fluctuation of the renewable energies listed above, ensuring a continuous supply of energy. Such power-to-X technologies promote sector coupling, in which the electricity, heat, gas, and mobility sectors are coupled together.

Making renewable energies storable

Power-to-X can therefore be seen as the answer to the aspiration of climate neutrality. With this approach, renewable energies will become storable and transportable in large quantities for long periods of time. Power-to-gas in particular is considered a key technology in terms of the mobility sector. The ability to generate hydrogen from water in electrolyzers is not a new development. The respective technologies have been in use in the chemical and gas-producing industries for a long time. Fuel cells that convert hydrogen into electricity by reacting it with oxygen have also been around for many years. As part of the energy transition – in which these new energy sources are not only intended to be a carbon-free, but also an economically competitive alternative to fossil fuels – these processes have to be made significantly more cost-effective. In the case of electrolyzers, for example, a reduction to around a third of the current price is considered necessary. On the flip side, carbon taxes are promoting the decarbonisation of industry, transport, and the private sector. The German Federal Government’s stated goal of reaching greenhouse-gas neutrality by 2045 has to be pursued at full speed right now.

The “green automation” concept can and must play a central role in this. VDMA Robotik + Automation and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation have established a joint initiative to this end. Their approach is multifaceted. First, manufacturing processes are to be designed to be sustainable – that is to say, resource-conserving and energy-saving. Second, automation technology is to be used to promote innovative solutions that support and drive forward decarbonisation and make this process affordable. In the context of power-to-gas, various applications can be considered for this purpose: water electrolysis processes and fuel cells benefit from intelligent automation in connection with digitalisation, as does the operation of pipelines and the monitoring of storage facilities.

With power-to-X to the All Electric Society

Phoenix Contact has declared the future vision of the All Electric Society as its own strategic goal. One of the key starting points for a large number of activities is in supporting Power-to-X technologies through all points in the supply chain for converting renewable energies into hydrogen, methanol, and other chemicals and fuels, right through to converting these back into electricity, a field in which automation plays an important role. In this context, it is important to provide safety and security for the critical infrastructures that are used in this, which also includes explosion protection and IT security. The focus is on hydrogen applications within the framework of mobility, for example for buses and trucks, as well as in industry and in buildings. A large number of products and solutions from Phoenix Contact that have proven themselves in traditional processes are also relevant for the generation, transport, storage, and conversion of power-to-X (P2X) products into electrical energy. The initial projects – including the automation of fuel cell systems and electrolysis systems in particular – also highlight that both modularity and scalability are also proving to be important in this field.

Innovative automation concepts based on open, state-of-the-art industry standards

There is currently a flood of P2X projects, creating an atmosphere similar to that of a gold rush. Every day, new projects are being presented for the production of green hydrogen at locations in the steel, oil, and gas industry for the extension of pipelines, for investment plans enabling electrolyzer manufacturers to increase capacity, as well as feasibility studies for hydrogen plants on greenfield sites adjacent to large solar systems and wind farms. In light of this boom, it is self-evident that the resulting new industry sector should also strive to adopt new automation concepts. These should include the openness required in the framework of digitalization as well as the latest industrial standards.

With its existing product portfolio and the open, safe PLCnext Technology automation system, Phoenix Contact is providing the basis for realising concepts such as Open Process Automation and for establishing the simple connectivity of modular system parts through the Module Type Package (MTP) standard. This enables accelerated system and plant design, engineering, construction, and commissioning. Moreover, PLCnext Technology also supports the NOA (Namur Open Architecture) concept, which makes using production data easy and secure and forms an essential basis for continuous process optimisation, predictive maintenance, and the numerous other advantages that digitalisation promises. With special features such as a cloud modem, safety controllers, and access to an app store, the open source PLCnext Technology ecosystem is a future-proof basis for the automation of those systems that are currently being created.

Functional and data security as essential framework conditions

The requirements being placed by power-to-X industries on IT security (cybersecurity) are just as high as those of conventional power providers. In this case, it is not just a case of installing firewalls at one point or another in critical infrastructure. To minimise all cyber security risks in these P2X systems, the protection goals should be defined and based on the well-established IEC 62443 standard, “IT Security for Industrial Automation Solutions”. As a certified ICS security service provider, Phoenix Contact is able to provide sustainable support in this field. Its holistic approach also includes security-oriented product development. For applications in the hydrogen industry, the products used must be explosion-proof as well as resistant to vibration and temperature.

Functional safety is also of considerable importance. Experience gained in the process industry clearly demonstrates that controlling risks is not only essential with regard to protecting the environment and people, but also to maintaining the systems and thus protecting the investment. In addition to the safety integrity level (SIL), the performance level (PL) plays an important role in the use of automated safety systems. Decentral, flexibly configurable solutions such as SafetyBridge Technology are already being used in SIL 3 applications in a wide range of fields today. These solutions can be easily integrated into the control system.

Reliable warning of potentially explosive atmospheres

Powerful safety controllers for complex applications within the field of P2X can also be integrated into PROFIsafe and PROFINET networks. This enables safe shutdown, safe gas detection, and other functional safety functions to be realized regardless of who the manufacturer is. In addition, components for surge protection and, for example, cameras for monitoring decentral infrastructure can also play a role in safety and security.

A further key safety issue has to be taken into consideration due to the often-combustible gases that are generated, transported, and stored within the P2X framework. If they escape unnoticed, an explosive or toxic atmosphere can develop. Appropriate sensor technology and gas warning devices are necessary to warn personnel in these cases. Works traffic must also be kept away from such areas. Traffic lights that regulate this traffic are coupled with the gas warning devices via suitable transmission technology.

Equipping tank farms and underground chambers

An ever-increasing number of tank farms will be built as part of the P2X supply chain in the future, and not just as interim storage sites for hydrogen for fuel cells, for example. Large tank farms situated on industrial steel and cement production sites will provide hydrogen as a raw material for power-to-gas and power-to-liquid processes. This provides the opportunity to take the carbon dioxide that has been produced until now as an exhaust gas and react it with hydrogen to form synthetic hydrocarbons such as methanol or kerosene.

In the context of the energy transition, renewable fuels (e-fuels) produced from climate-damaging CO2 through carbon capture and utilisation are considered to be an interim solution at the very least and an important part of the circular economy. An even more climate-friendly solution is to convert the CO2 contained in the exhaust gas into chemical raw materials so that is bonded for a much longer timescale. Phoenix Contact has been equipping such tank farms with SIL-certified and intrinsically safe products – including, for example, overfill protection – and modular controllers for some time now. In addition, storing hydrogen in underground chambers, for example in former natural gas caverns, is also being discussed, meaning that these will also have to be equipped with automation technology or adapted.

It is self-evident that what applies to the handling of conventional fuels also applies to the handling of e-fuels – they are explosive. The principles of explosion protection must therefore be observed during transport and storage. To automate the required systems, a supplier should be chosen that has experience in equipping such processes in hazardous areas and, of course, one that has the necessary products. Among other systems, Phoenix Contact has already automated hydrogen and natural gas filling stations, integrating safety applications at the same time.

Redundancy in the compressor station

Phoenix Contact also has many years of experience in automating pipelines that include compressor stations. Along with pipelines for transporting the various gases, the power-to-X industry will also need pipeline systems for supplying buildings. Apart from the safety solutions, redundancy concepts that safeguard supply in the event of a compressor failure will also be required here. In addition to the automation of different compressor drive systems, such as electric motors, turbine drives, and piston drives, proven asset monitoring solutions tailored to the respective application will also help to ensure trouble-free operation.

Fuel cells and electrolyzers in the spotlight

Along with the transfer of knowledge from similar applications over to the P2X industry, Phoenix Contact has dedicated itself to specific new applications. For example, fuel cells were equipped with automation technology as part of a series of pilot projects. Also, the provider of automation and connectivity solutions has already made detailed optimizations: Fuel cell stacks from a well-known manufacturer can now be connected easily with VARIOCON-type connectors. With 40 I/O points, the efficiency of the assembly line has been increased significantly.

Electrolysis processes are also among the systems that Phoenix Contact intends to equip in the future. Initial pilot projects are underway to formalize the special requirements of such applications. To this end, a pilot plant was fully automated, resulting in its performance being increased significantly. In light of the fact that the manufacturer has already equipped a large number of chemical processing plants with automation technology, the technology that is necessary to ensure high availability for electrolyzers and thus to ensure competitiveness is already available. To further reduce system costs, principles such as Design to Cost are also to be supported, and capacities ramped up. Here, the possibilities of digitalization also have to be exploited. The digital twin, for example, could be used as part of process optimization and modernization in the future. The digital transformation will continue to open up new ways to make electrolyzers and a range of other systems within the P2X industry significantly more efficient in the future and, consequently, their products more cost-effective.

From terminal blocks through to safety controllers

Ultimately, Phoenix Contact has gained experience in almost every sector of P2X production, storage, and transport. In addition to the applications described above, the projects already completed also include pumps and compressor skids that are used in hydrogen systems. Practically the entire Phoenix Contact portfolio is used in these various applications: From terminal blocks and connectors, through power supplies and I/Os, all the way to surge protection components, firewalls, switches, and safety controllers.

Blue hydrogen as a bridging technology

Even though the path to a completely climate-neutral economy with the support of green hydrogen remains long, the first step has to be taken right now. Against the backdrop of the current energy mix in Germany, which is characterized by a high fluctuation in the productivity of wind, solar, and hydropower, storage solutions have to be created. The energy transition will not be realized by increasing the amount of wind power and solar systems alone. Massively increasing the facilities for storing electrical, renewable energy is the only way that it will be possible to buffer drops in productivity and to one day dispense entirely with natural gas.

Hydrogen and other power-to-X products play a key role here. When ramping up the necessary infrastructure and supply chains, what is referred to as blue hydrogen will almost certainly be necessary as an intermediate technology. Some of the first cluster regions, such as those identified by the German Energy Agency (dena), already have hydrogen pipelines. Activities in the field of mobility are being driven forward through the development of hydrogen filling stations. Not least, the chemical industry locations and refineries are becoming the centers of such clusters because, for example, hydrogen from fossil fuels and natural gas can be replaced by green hydrogen or synthetic methane.

Hydrogen pipelines – cheaper than high-voltage lines

Green hydrogen as a future energy source will make some discussions about high-voltage lines superfluous in a few years. Hydrogen pipelines already stretch across Europe. Extending this pipeline grid will not only be significantly cheaper than extending that of the electricity grid: a high-voltage line costs about ten times as much as a pipeline. It does not spoil the landscape in the way a power distribution system that is around ten times taller does. Hydrogen is also unbeatable when it comes to competing with batteries as an energy storage system. A quantity of 6,000 metric tons of hydrogen, which can easily be stored in conventional salt caverns(1), corresponds to the storage capacity of battery technology worth €23.6 billion.

Extending the green hydrogen infrastructure

The extreme weather conditions experienced in the summer of 2021 should have convinced the last doubters and delayers. The time is ripe to vehemently accelerate the energy transition and, along with that, to create the infrastructure for green hydrogen as a means of sector coupling. It is, after all, clear that the demand for energy will by no means decrease, even if all energy-saving possibilities are exploited. On the contrary, digitalisation and the ever-growing number of data centres being built as a result will further increase the demand for energy. In all likelihood, mobility and the transport of goods will not decrease either. Phoenix Contact can – based on its experience gained in the process industry, including in the fields of cybersecurity, explosion protection, and functional safety with scalable, modular solutions – provide effective support for plant manufacturers and the installers of hydrogen infrastructure within the P2X industry. In this way, the energy transition will become an opportunity for a large number of companies that demonstrate expertise, drive, and innovation.

For further information on Phonexi Contact and power-to-x please visit: https://www.phoenixcontact.com/en-ae/industries/process-automation/power-to-x

Source: press release

Investigators carried out searches at Deutsche Bank and its subsidiary DWS as part of an investigation into investment fraud.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt raided the offices of both Deutsche Bank and its asset management subsidiary DWS on Tuesday as part of an investigation into so-called “greenwashing.”

The searches related to allegations of financial institutions marketing investment products as more environmentally friendly than they really were.

What are the investigators looking into?

In a statement, Frankfurt prosecutors said investigators were carrying out raids “on suspicion of investment fraud.”

Accusations of greenwashing against DWS have circulated for months, amid allegations that asset managers had overstated DWS’s sustainability credentials on issues such as environmental protection and climate change.

Prosecutors say investigators have already found “sufficient indications” that ESG (environmental, social and governance) standards were applied only “in a minority of investments.” 

This, the prosecutors said, was contrary to information in DWS’s “sales prospectus.” There were no named suspects.

ESG products are an increasingly important asset class as financial institutions aim to trim portfolios in line with global climate targets

The prosecutors said it was following accusations based on “statements made by a former DWS employee.” The individual was said to have become a whistleblower for US securities regulators in 2021.

What do the businesses say?

Deutsche Bank confirmed that searches had taken place in relation to “greenwashing accusations” at DWS. The bank said in a statement that it would “work together with all relevant regulators and authorities.”

It said that “the measures taken by the public prosecutor’s office are directed against unknown persons in connection with greenwashing allegations made against DWS.”

A spokesperson for DWS said it was “continuously and comprehensively” cooperating with the authorities.

Source: DW.com

Fashion company Marc O’Polo has signed a deal with Germany’s Retraced to provide item-level traceability for its clothing products.

Set up in 2019, Retraced provides a blockchain and cloud-based chain-of-custody traceability tool that allows customers in the apparel and textiles industries to digitally track products from production to retail, helping them to gain greater insight into their supply chains.

Marc O’Polo said the partnership would increase its production transparency and also allow it to monitor how well it is meeting sustainability goals.

Its entire supplier base have already been brought onto the platform, and the long-term goal is to ensure each individual product is completely and transparently traceable, it said in a statement.

“Complete traceability in the supply chain is one of the most important topics in the industry,” said Susanne Schwenger, chief product officer of Marc O’Polo.

“I am pleased we have found a partner in Retraced, who can accompany us on this essential and long-term project in an agile and transparent manner by using the latest technology,” she added.

Marc O’Polo was established in Stockholm, Sweden in 1967 with a pledge to produce clothing only from natural materials, and has since grown into an international fashion brand with sales of €440m ($471m) in fiscal 2020/21.

Sustainability is one of its key business strategies as it tries to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

The company currently describes and labels a product as sustainable if at least 80% of its essential components consist of sustainable materials. By 2023 it wants to hit 100% sustainability for all materials.

“The collaboration between Marc O’Polo and Retraced is an exciting step for the entire fashion industry,” said Lukas Pünder, CEO & co-founder of the traceability specialist.

“The project aims to show how deep supply chain transparency is made possible in a scalable way through efficient data exchange between brand and suppliers.”

Source: Securing Industry

City-owned shipping company co-operating with TUHH researchers – inland waterway vessels to pioneer alternative propulsion systems

Flotte Hamburg GmbH & Co. KG (FLH), which manages the city’s inland waterway vessels, is co-operating with the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH) to boost low-emission shipping in the port. This is part of Hamburg’s overall efforts to become climate-neutral by 2050 and slash CO2 emissions on roads, in the air and on water and to meet the targets set by the European Union.

Pooling know-how with TUHH 

Flotte Hamburg’s current environmental strategy is set to become a “zero emissions concept” in co-operation with TUHH’s marine engineering working group (ASM). FLH has already reduced emissions and helped raise the quality of air in the Port of Hamburg by switching to low-emission fuels and using innovative propulsion systems. “The networking of Hamburg’s know-how as well as the scientific monitoring of our sustainability efforts lay the foundation for operating our fleet climate-neutrally,” said Karsten Schönewald, Managing Director of Flotte Hamburg.

Hamburg to pioneer alternative ship propulsion systems

The marine engineering working group has worked on alternative fuels and hybridization for several years and is investigating which types of propulsion and fuel suit which ship. Professor Dr.-Ing. Friedrich Wirz, Head of ASM, noted: “We will help make ‘Flotte Hamburg’ a pioneer of alternative ship propulsion thereby strengthening Hamburg as a centre of research and, above all, protecting the climate.” The knowledge gained through the collaboration will be incorporated into practical operations and will be made available for further research and teaching.

Flotte Hamburg 

Flotte Hamburg GmbH & Co. KG has managed fleets in the Port of Hamburg since 2017. It operates, charters out and, if necessary, renews the 50 or so watercraft belonging to the Hamburg Port Authority, the police, the Hamburg Fire Department and the State Office for Roads, Bridges and Waterways. Flotte Hamburg is a city-owned shipping company.

Source: Hamburg News

Siemens Energy is to start production of electrolysis modules in Berlin, at Huttenstrasse in Berlin’s Moabit locality, with start of production scheduled for 2023.

New production lines for the electrolysers are being set up on 2,000 square metres at a cost of around 30 million euros. Currently, the site mainly manufactures gas turbines, which can already be operated with up to 50 percent hydrogen. By 2030, these turbines should be capable of complete hydrogen operation. Siemens Energy is now pooling its expertise in both these areas in Berlin to ensure a reliable and successful energy transition to a new energy mix. This also includes the business field of energy transmission: At the Siemens Energy Switchgear Plant Berlin innovative high voltage products are manufactured, ensuring that electricity reaches consumers reliably.

“With the new production facility for hydrogen electrolysers, we are reinforcing our claim to play an active role in shaping the energy transition” said Christian Bruch, President and CEO of Siemens Energy. “To this end, we are pooling our knowledge in the field of various energy technologies in Berlin. For us, hydrogen is an important component of the future energy world. For this to be economically viable, the manufacturing costs for electrolysers must be significantly reduced. With our new production facility, we are helping to make hydrogen competitive sooner.”

At the Berlin location, the individual electrolyser cells will be manufactured and combined to form functional modules, or ‘stacks’. Depending on the required capacity, these will then be assembled into larger process-based units.

In Germany, this last stage will take place at Mülheim, which is closely associated with the new Berlin plant and complements it perfectly. The critical element is that production is being switched over to mass production: Reasonably priced and affordable electrolysers are the prerequisite for being able to cover growing demand and the future costs of hydrogen. For this purpose, Siemens Energy is relying on PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolysis, in which water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen using a proton-permeable membrane and electricity from renewable sources.

The key aspects of this process are its high level of efficiency, high product gas quality, and reliable operation with no chemicals or impurities. The latest and most powerful PEM electrolyser product line from Siemens Energy is optimised for applications up to the high hundreds of megawatts, enabling systems of this size to generate several metric tons of green hydrogen every hour. The electricity used in electrolyser manufacture will be sourced entirely from renewables.

Green hydrogen – in other words, hydrogen generated using renewable energy – is a key element in the replacement of fossil fuels with renewables. Hydrogen can serve as a storage medium and also as a raw material for further applications, including synthetic fuels. However, hydrogen molecules can also be used directly as an energy source to generate electricity and heat, which have previously depended on gas. In combination with a massive expansion of renewables, this is a way to ensure the success of the energy transition. The pathways for producing green hydrogen and its derived products are known; the task now is to scale production to industrial volumes. Powerful electrolysers of the type to be manufactured soon in Berlin will form the centrepiece of hydrogen technology.

Source: https://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/hydrogen/siemens-energy-to-start-production-of-hydrogen-20220331

Yesterday in Brussels, EU environment ministers unanimously adopted the Council position on the EU batteries regulation.

The regulation is intended to ensure more sustainable use of batteries along the entire value chain throughout the EU. To achieve this, a carbon footprint will be introduced for electric vehicle batteries and the replaceability of portable batteries improved. In addition, social and corporate due diligence obligations regarding the extraction of raw materials and more ambitious collection and recycling targets will be established. Other topics at the Environment Council included aspects of the EU Fit for 55 package, further developing CO2 limit values for vehicle fleets and introducing a separate emissions trading scheme for heating and transport.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke: “Batteries are a key component for a successful energy transition. They store energy for electric cars and electrical appliances as well as from solar panels on residential buildings and houses. But batteries also contain valuable raw materials and contaminants. What is beneficial for climate action must not lead to more destruction of nature or further damage to the environment. In the EU, we want to produce batteries as sustainably as possible in the future, use them for a long time and keep them in the material cycle through recycling. By enhancing social and environmental standards along the supply chain, Europe is taking on a leading role worldwide. Consumers should be able to rely on the sustainability of batteries. We are therefore creating transparency by introducing a carbon footprint for batteries in electric cars. The more ambitious collection and recycling targets at EU level will ensure more reliable collection and recycling of waste batteries. We have had positive experiences with this in Germany, and in the past have exceeded EU requirements. And we want to do even more. That is why we are pushing for more ambitious targets at EU level.”

The general approach on the batteries regulation achieved today in the Council is another important milestone on the road towards its adoption in the near future. The regulation is a ground-breaking reform on the EU internal market as it focusses for the first time on the entire life cycle of batteries. To reduce adverse impacts along the entire value chain, for example, the carbon footprint of electric vehicle batteries (traction batteries) and industrial batteries will be calculated. In addition, performance classes and limit values will be introduced for these batteries. The new batteries regulation envisages a recyclate quota (recycled content quota) from 2031 for large traction and industrial batteries. The minimum quotas for recycled content will apply to lead, cobalt, lithium and nickel.

The regulation also specifies minimum requirements for the durability and performance of industrial batteries and portable batteries of general use. Through the regulation, EU partners want to ensure easy removal and replaceability of batteries in appliances and light means of transport (LMT) such as e-bikes. It should generally be possible, for instance, for batteries with a lifespan shorter than the life of the product in which they are installed to be replaced by end-users or independent repair shops. Collection targets for portable batteries are to be successively increased to 70 percent and 54 percent for LMT batteries (according to the draft regulation: 8 years after entry into force; likely up until 2030).

In addition, the batteries regulation lays down corporate due diligence obligations in a particular way: for the first time, the due diligence obligations of businesses along the supply chain of a given product group, in this case batteries, will be regulated. In particular, environmental aspects in international raw material supply chains will be significantly enhanced and signalling effects generated for future regulations. The first Digital Product Passport is to be introduced at European level with the battery passport. The passport will bundle together and make available key information from all stages of the life cycle of traction and industrial batteries.

The European Parliament already adopted its position with a large majority last week. According to the decision of the Environment Council, a final agreement is to be reached promptly in the trilogue process between the EU member states, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Following its entry into force, the batteries regulation will replace the EU Batteries Directive of 2006.

Source: recycling-magazine.com

The construction of the plant, which will be located in Kuppenheim in southern Germany, will be in two stages. Initially, a plant for mechanical dismantling will be constructed by 2023. As a second step – subject to promising discussions with the public sector – the facilities for hydrometallurgical processing of the battery materials are to go into operation. This means that in the future, Kuppenheim could cover all the stages from dismantling to module level, shredding and drying and subsequent processing of battery-grade material flows.

The pilot plant is expected to have an annual capacity of 2,500 tonnes. The recovered materials will be fed back into the recycling loop to produce more than 50,000 battery modules for new Mercedes-EQ models. Based on the findings of the pilot plant, production volumes could be scaled up in the medium to long term.

The project is intended to set standards in terms of battery recycling from an ecological point of view: the process design of the patented hydrometallurgy with recovery rates of more than 96 percent is expected to allow a holistic circular economy of battery materials.

Mercedes-Benz is investing a double-digit million euro amount in research and development, as well as in the construction of the CO2-neutral pilot plant. The project may receive funding under the Battery Innovation Support Program of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.

In the future, the new pilot plant will map the entire process chain of battery recycling: from the development of logistics concepts and the sustainable recycling of valuable raw materials to the reintegration of recyclate into the production of new batteries. The new recycling plant is based on an innovative mechanical/hydrometallurgical process, which completely dispenses with energy-intensive and material-consuming pyrometallurgical process steps. The direct integration of hydrometallurgy into the overall concept of a recycling plant is a first in Europe, and acts as a key element in the realization of sustainable battery recycling in the sense of a true circular economy.

Michael Brecht, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Mercedes-Benz Group AG: “The pilot factory at the Kuppenheim location marks the Mercedes-Benz Group’s entry into the important field of battery recycling, and will make the company more independent of raw material supplies in the future. At the same time, we are gathering important know-how on the subject of the circular economy and creating new, sustainable jobs that can be further expanded if operations are successful. Sustainability also includes human rights. In this respect, we as the General Works Council, together with the company management, adopted the Declaration of Principles for Social Responsibility and Human Rights last year as a central foundation for our daily actions.”

The German tinplate manufacturer thyssenkrupp Rasselstein has launched what it says is the world’s first food can made of CO2-reduced bluemint Steel together with the Swiss companies Hoffmann Neopac and Ricola, the latter of which will sell its herbal drops in the cans.

The joint project involves thyssenkrupp Rasselstein suppling the CO2-reduced packaging steel, Hoffmann Neopac producing and printing the cans using solar power, and Ricola using energy from renewable sources for the production and filling of their herbal drops.

In thyssenkrupp Rasselstein’s steel production process, so-called HBI was used, which means already reduced sponge iron. This reportedly decreases the use of coal for the reduction process in the blast furnace, resulting in lower CO2 emissions.

Dr Peter Biele, CEO of thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, explains: “By using our new bluemint Steel, CO2 emissions from can production can be significantly reduced, making our product even more sustainable.

“This project is an important step towards achieving our climate targets.”

The company has pledged to be completely carbon neutral by 2045.

Mark Aegler, CEO of Hoffmann Neopac, adds: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We produce our cans in Switzerland with 100% electricity from renewable sources while working on our own decarbonization programme.”

According to Dr Martin Messerli, chief operating officer of Ricola: “For us, it was important to make the packaging of our herbal drops more sustainable. That is why we are the first company in our market to use CO2-reduced food cans.

“By switching to a CO2-reduced can for our herbal drops specialties, Ricola is also responding to increased demand from consumers, who are paying more attention to the carbon footprint of their purchases.”

The first herbal drops in the CO2-reduced can are expected to leave Ricola’s factory in Laufen at the beginning of March and will be available from stores in April or May 2022.

In 2020, steel recycling rates hit an all-time high of 82.5%, according to APEAL, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging, which also identified it as a “permanent material” capable of being recycled again and again without losing its properties in a recent report. Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of APEAL, believes that steel cans are an ideal packaging type for food due to their adaptability, their contribution to reducing food waste, barrier properties, and recyclability.

Source: Packaging Europe

The topic of sustainability is increasingly occupying the travel industry. With the German platform Farircations, a new company is now being launched that focuses specifically on sustainable package and individual holidays. Booking sustainable holidays should be as easy as reaching for the organic food shelf in the supermarket. At least, that is the claim of Faircations founders Sonja Karl and Stefan Seibel, two former travel experts of defunct tour operator Thomas Cook.

The booking platform for sustainable travel was launched this week (Feb 22). At the same time, the start-up’s crowd-investing campaign was launched on fundernation.eu. Investors can participate in the young company with a contribution of €100 or more. A bonus beckons for those who make up their minds at short notice.

Faircations’ portfolio includes both package and individual holidays. Travellers will find everything from beach holidays to city trips, long-distance travel, round trips, wellness holidays, sports trips and holidays with the family. Hotels can also be booked on their own.

First destinations Europe, Indian Ocean, Caribbean

Currently, tours are offered in Europe, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. According to the company, the product range currently includes about 200 hotels in 14 countries and is constantly being expanded. In the near future, the portfolio will be expanded with specially designed round trips and tours worldwide. According to Faircations, the offers can be booked not only on faircations.de but also in selected travel agencies.

Travel components such as travel and accommodation can be individually and flexibly put together on the Faircations website and booked immediately. According to the company, customers do not have to go through the hassle of finding sustainable and ecologically responsible hotels on their own, but will find a curated selection of “green” accommodation on the travel provider’s website.

Environmentally conscious and fair quality standards

According to the Munich-based company, all offers have been selected according to environmentally conscious and fair quality standards along the value chain. The accommodations are certified with an independent sustainability seal. Many of them are also recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Faircations advertises.

For CO2 compensation for flights, the start-up works together with Atmosfair. Customers can adjust the compensation amount themselves when booking and are suggested particularly climate-efficient airlines and sustainability-optimised routes.

Donation for social and nature projects

Every Faircations booking also has a positive effect, as the travel provider donates 1% of the price to social, nature or environmental protection projects. Users can select the respective project themselves when booking.

Source: fvw TravelTalk

With the introduction of its Emollient Maestro, BASF’s Care Creations® is raising the bar for smart development of sustainable, high-performing personal care products. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) modelling, the digital service calculates ideal emollient mixes according to user briefings, and allows for the targeted replacement of industry benchmarks such as cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone or mineral oils. “Inspired by our award-winning Emollient Jockey and the positive feedback from our customers, we decided to develop an even more powerful version of this digital service. Integrated into our D’lite services, our Emollient Maestro supports our customers in significantly accelerating their formulation design and thus their time-to-market, while promoting the Clean Beauty movement for more eco-friendly, sustainable personal care products,” said Christopher Neary, Marketing Manager New Business Development and Digitalization.

Advanced features for sustainable solutions

The Emollient Maestro is a comprehensive upgrade of the company’s Emollient Jockey that was introduced in 2020. This original version, which is still available, allows to compare the characteristics and performance of single emollients and thus to easily select the best-performing emollient for any given formulation.

In the new, extended edition, the simulation now includes complex emollient mixes. Depending on the users’ needs, it takes into account sensory and physico-chemical properties, the naturality index in accordance with ISO 16128, and common ecolabel certifications such as COSMOS, NaTrue or the Nordic Ecolabel. To facilitate the development of even more sustainable solutions, the Emollient Maestro also draws on data of benchmark products. By setting attributes of ingredients like silicones or mineral oil derivatives as a performance target, such ingredients can be specifically replaced. These new features allow for faster prototyping and more efficient design of products with a positive sustainability footprint.

Sophisticated technology embedded in a comprehensive digital ecosystem

Based on systemically designed experiments and accurate prediction models, the AI-driven service delivers 5,000 binary combinations and 150,000 ternary combinations that theoretically match any given emollient. The new product designer is integrated into the BASF D’lite ecosystem. This powerful digital platform seamlessly merges multiple real-time data sources such as consumer insights, trend and market data, and social media analytics with the latest BASF product portfolio, concepts and over 3,300 formulations. To use the Emollient Maestro optimally according to personal needs, both a self-service and a consulting model are available. Customers can reach out to their sales representative to discuss their individual use case.

About the Care Chemicals division at BASF

The BASF division Care Chemicals offers a broad range of ingredients for personal care, home care, industrial & institutional cleaning, and technical applications. We are a leading global supplier for the cosmetics industry as well as the detergents and cleaners industry, and support our customers with innovative and sustainable products, solutions and concepts. The division’s high-performance product portfolio includes surfactants, emulsifiers, polymers, emollients, chelating agents, cosmetic active ingredients and UV filters. We have production and development sites in all regions and are expanding our presence in emerging markets. Further information is available online at www.care-chemicals.basf.com.

About BASF

At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 110,000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of €59 billion in 2020. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the U.S. Further information at www.basf.com.