Styrene removal in the composite industry

Composites are an extremely durable construction material, because of their near infinite lifespan and the extreme strong and lightweight properties. The composite industry is now feeling an increasing desire to make their styrene removal a top priority. To modernize their companies and reduce their environmental footprint. Solving the styrene emissions in a durable and green way, at low cost, with very little maintenance and a small footprint is hereby essential. Meet the VOCUS.

The VOCUS is a modern and biological solution that increases the green image of your products, because of the responsible way the industry produces her products. There is no additional (fossil) fuel necessary, no additional chemicals and no big amounts of regular waste.

VOCUS styrene removal
VOCUS units removing styrene at a composite production facility in Belgium

Water, nutrients and care will do

The VOCUS is a modern full biological system. It will function independently within the optimum parameters that are maintained automatically by the system. It will adapt itself to the inlet styrene load and is capable of the fluctuations that are known in any normal industrial production rhythm.

The VOCUS is a biological system. This means that the actual styrene removal is done by biology in the VOCUS reactor that consumes the styrene. This is the reason that the operational costs are extremely low compared to any other technology.

High quality styrene removal that will last for decades

Just some water, nutrients and care will let the VOCUS to do its job efficiently. Long life of the system, all build from the most durable plastics (composite housing) that will last for decades, while the biology will be maintained throughout all this time feeding itself on the incoming styrene.

Why choose the VOCUS:

  • Complies with the EU’s strictest VOC emission legislation. Any removal performance can be achieved due to modular and flexible design. Outlet concentrations can be achieved as low as <10 mg C/Nm3. But the VOCUS can also be designed such that they only do 30% removal. Extremely flexible and tailor made possibilities.
  • Linear expandable system, at any time additional reactors can be added easily to adept to increasing production or a demand for higher performance due to legislation in the (near) future.
  • The VOCUS reactor housing is made of composite, customers may want to make their own VOCUS housing to save costs and increase the company’s involvement and show-off in the greenifying project.
  • No piloting necessary, the VOCUS is proven and scalable in the whole of the composite industry.
  • Extreme low footprint, due to reactors that are built into height. Leaving more space for production & storage.

Please contact us for a design for your company.

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Legislation on solvent emissions in flexographic industry.

Industrial emissions have been under the microscope for the last few years. There’s a green switch happening and companies EU wide need to think about their environmental policies. Many companies, also in the flexographic industry, struggle between keeping government and consumer happy with their emissions on one hand and making profit with their companies on the other hand.

Directive 2010/75/EU

The Directive 2010/75/EU of November 24, 2010 on industrial emissions is in force right now for -among others- the flexographic industry. This directive is mandatory to be implemented in every member state of the EU. The EU wants to unify the legislation in all countries to ensure that competitiveness of the sectors remains a level playing field in the EU. The EU law isn’t an easy read but since it’s our job at Pure Infinity we make it a little easier for your business with this blog so you can easily understand ánd implement the legislation.

Legislation on solvent emissions

If a factory in the EU emits more than 15 ton of solvents per year the company needs to meet the emission restrictions in the directive. For the flexographic industry it is set that between 15 and 25 ton the fugitive emissions are allowed to be 25% of the total solvent input. Above 25 ton the fugitive emission is allowed to be 20%. Companies either have to comply to the emission limits (which is 100 mgC/Nm3 in the air emission of the factory) or comply to the rules of the reduction scheme as laid out in the directive. It is important to investigate which regime is best for your company.

Consequences

Punishments for not obeying  are also similar in every country. Closing down a production location isn’t an exception and also high fines are common consequences. Luckily your  company doesn’t have to let it get that far. There are green, affordable and lasting solutions that comply fully to the law.

Green solutions by Pure Infinity

There are a lot of options out there (link interne blog). Pure Infinity can provide two options for your company in the flexographic industry:

  1. VOCUS: lower solvent emissions 25/100 ton a year due to a biological process with very low running costs and green and proven technology.
  2. BONCUS: solvent recovery by converting into green energy (therefore great ROI), making money by not destroying valuable raw materials.

Want to know more? Download the PDF below for detailed information about the legislation and the options for your company.

PDF about legislation

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VOCUS in Flexographic Industry, a reference

Installed: 3 VOCUS systems for 3 locations

Country: Spain | Company: family owned with multiple factories

Case of the customer

In this customer reference we’d like to take you to three different production locations of this Spanish company. At these locations one of the production processes is flexographic printing in line with extrusion. The printing in these factories is typical low in amount of inks therefore the solvent use is relatively low but still above the threshold level that would require solvent emission treatment to prevent solvents to be emitted into the atmosphere. These solvents emissions are restricted by EU law due to the effect of the solvents on the formation of photochemical SMOG and other related environmental and health issues. The Spanish group was searching for an end of pipe technology to clean the air from the solvents. They were looking at the available technologies and wanted to choose the most effective technology for their situation.

Solution by Pure Infinity

Conventional techniques that are typically used in the flexo printing industry are incinerators. They bring the air over 850 degrees Celsius to burn the solvents. At autothermal concentrations the incinerators are designed to be able to run without external (fossil) fuel. Unfortunately, at all three locations the solvent concentrations were too low to reach autothermal conditions. This would mean that a lot of additional fuel would be necessary to burn the solvents. It was for sure that the operational costs of an incinerator would be very high.

In these situations, the VOCUS of Pure Infinity comes in very advantageous, it uses no additional fuel or chemicals to remove the solvents from the air. The VOCUS is a modern biological solvent removal system, it is the biology that consumes the solvents until the air emission is clean. Even the pressure drop of the VOCUS is much lower than an incinerator, and therefore uses much less electricity of the fan. The VOCUS is therefore on its best with these lower and very fluctuating solvent concentrations.

It was decided to start with one of the factories to phase the project. In 2016 the first VOCUS system was installed in a factory in the north of Spain. The second VOCUS was installed a year later in the second factory and the third VOCUS another year later in the third factory in the south of Spain.

Positive effects for our customer

  1. Financial: company saved a lot on fossil fuel per year per factory. As such the ROI on the VOCUS compared to the incinerators was very short.
  2. Sustainability: CO2 footprint is much lower with the green VOCUS solution than when the group had bought 3 incinerators.
  3. Clean air: The factories are all within the legal limit on solvent emissions and have a significant contribution to clean air.

3x VOCUS installations at 3 different factories as described above are based on the following specifications.

Airflow (m3/h) Tons of solvent in emission per year (ton/yr) Year Installed
9.000 m3/h 27 2018
9.000 m3/h 33 2017
9.500 m3/h 55 2016

All systems have been handed over with longer time measurements of in and outlet concentrations to proof the performance. All measurements were largely within the limits as promised and therefore successful.

Companies all over Europe have chosen Pure Infinity to solve their solvent emission problem with VOCUS. For example:

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Biological treatment: the solution for styrene emission in composite industry.

Styrene is released to air during the production of composites. This is part of composite industry because the styrene is released from the resin. There are emission limiting production methods, but styrene emissions are ultimately inevitable in all production methods. In this blog we make a comparison between the different solutions for styrene emission in composite industry.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Styrene can be categorized under Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). VOCs create smog and have a negative effect on air quality, which affects the respiratory system of humans and animals. This causes restrictions by industry and EU on the amount of styrene that can be emitted.

Solution for styrene emission in composite industry

Organizations in the composites industry now feel the pressure from government and their own responsibility to investigate emission reducing options. Styrene reduction is the ultimate goal: the road there is not always clear.

In addition to the emission-limiting options in the productions, end-of-pipe is the final solution. You can try to limit the emission in the process itself, but if that does not work or if it works only partially then you have to solve the problem “end of pipe”. Using end of pipe technologies allows the industry to maintain their current production methods.

From adsorption to biological treatment

There are roughly three techniques that can effectively remove styrene from airflows:

1. Adsorption (Activated Carbon)

The air is passed through a package of activated carbon. The styrene is trapped in the activated carbon until it is filled with styrene. When the carbon is full, the carbon must be replaced. Activated carbon can also be regenerated, reducing costs by 25% – 30%.

Transport and other costs then weigh heavily on operational costs. The often high pressure drop (resistance) of the activated carbon package also means high electricity costs for the fan. The CO2 footprint of AC is mainly determined by the carbonization of the raw material for the AC, the repeated regeneration furnaces, the energy consumption due to the high pressure drop and the transport. Acetone will not or hardly be adsorbed by activated carbon, the acetone in the final emission of mg C / Nm3 must be taken into account.

2. Burning (afterburners, incinerators or RTOs)

The air is led in an afterburner over a ceramic bed that is brought to a high temperature. When the air is brought to about 850 degrees Celsius, the styrene will burn. Obviously, the air is too “styrene-poor” to burn on its own, so fossil fuel must be used to raise the air temperature to 850 degrees.

The operational costs mainly consist of this heating energy. But the pressure drop in afterburners also means high electricity costs for the fan. The ceramic bed needs to be replaced once every 10 years, these are often costs that are about 50% of the investment. The CO2 footprint of the afterburning is of course mainly determined by the use of fossil fuel to keep the ceramic bed at that high temperature and the electricity consumption due to the high pressure drop of the afterburner.

3. Biological Treatment

In modern biological reactors the air is passed over a bed of plastic rings. A biological layer is deposited on these rings, who consume the styrene from the air, so that the air is “eaten” cleanly. The installation is built entirely out of plastic with a composite housing. As a result, the life of this installation is very long and the operational costs are very low. The investment costs of a modern biological reactor are often higher than the other options. Many companies in the composite industry that opt for a biological system produce parts for this form of styrene removal themselves.

Because the biology ensures the styrene removal, the operating costs are very low, especially compared to the options activated carbon and afterburning. The low pressure drop also ensures that the electricity costs of the fan are very low. Heat recovery can also still take place. The CO2 footprint of this installation is very low because no energy is required for the actual styrene removal, the very long lifespan of the installation through the use of plastics also guarantees a minimal CO2 footprint.

Opt for a sustainable and cost efficient solution

Roughly speaking, a financial comparison for the different techniques will follow the lines as shown graphically below. Here you can clearly see the effect of the choice of the different techniques on the total costs in the longer term. We assumed a fictional production location with a styrene emission of 4 kg styrene per hour and a total production hour of 6500 hours per year. We have included capital costs as 3%, costs for activated carbon are set at 3/kg and a load of 25% styrene / carbon (m/m).

solution styrene emission composite

Often choices are made based on the or/or principle. Either a good price or a beautiful world. This isn’t necessary when you’re battling the styrene emission in your factory: an environmentally conscious technique also has financial benefits over time. Choosing biological treatment by Pure Infinity is choosing a sustainable, environmentally conscious and cost-efficient solution.

We are happy to help your organization with a custom design for the VOCUS. Get in touch with us over here to discuss the possibilities!

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Pure Infinity: the green emission treatment

As an environmental technologist, Pure Infinity owner Albert Waalkens observed already early that our environment benefits more from governmental and organizational solutions, rather than asking consumers to consume less. With that in mind he is convinced that the biggest benefit will come from making the source of the goods that are used and consumed green and circular. And as such, our consumption durable. With his company Pure Infinity he provides solutions that purify the exhausted air in factories with biotechnological solutions: it results in green emission treatment.

“We must strive to stop using finite resources and focus on continuous reduction of the “long-chain” CO2 emissions. This can be achieved with a combination of technology and a paradigm shift within industry and politics.” Albert is convinced that this will automatically lower production costs. “If we’ve acquired the knowledge and expertise in Europe, we can start exporting it to other parts of the world. Then we will once again benefit from this acquired knowledge and therefore double the impact. Sustainable production is therefore certainly not a cost item: it’s a very profitable investment.”

We develop technology: our clients make the difference

Pure Infinity’s professionals work on a fact-based, pragmatic and environmental-driven basis. The continuity and growth of customers is crucial here. After all, they are the parties who invest in green production and make the difference. Albert: “We have fully developed our own techniques and work together with the Chemical Engineering department at the University of Valencia. For the flexo– and composites industry, which we have specialized in, we have come up with specific solutions that are scalable in the entire industry, from small to large companies. ” Thanks to our solutions, these factories see their air pollution drop dramatically due to the biology-based solutions at the lowest costs.

Sustainable environment & green profit

Albert’s enthusiasm translates into the in-house development of all techniques that Pure Infinity offers. Pure Infinity’s mission? To tackle emissions of air pollutants at low costs with green technologies that have minimal impact on the environment. In this way Pure Infinity contributes to making the world more sustainable.

Pure Infinity believes that green can go well with commercial interest. That it can and must go together to create a better, sustainable world that goes hand in hand with social and economic progress. By making air purification green, Pure Infinity customers kill two birds with one stone: less pollution and a green solution. The air is clean, but the earth is not further deprived of its fossil fuels. Due to the investment in Pure Infinity technology, the costs in the longer term are decreasing and sometimes the solution is even profitable.

Green emission treatment

Pure Infinity technology makes biology work instead of using fossil fuels. This makes Pure Infinity the natural purifier that results in green emission treatment. EU legislation requires factories to clean their emissions: this has been regulated in a European context since 2007 and will be enforced even more strictly starting 2020. In addition, as an organization you want to be serious about your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): customers and end consumers are increasingly asking for transparency, a sustainable policy and an organization that stands for (light) green business. If you make an investment in 2020 that has a lifespan of a few decades, you need to be aware of environmental consequences.

Biotechnological solution

Pure Infinity has developed the green technology Vocus for companies in the composites industry using minimal fossil fuels. The Vocus is also a great solution for the flexo industry. In addition, the Boncus has been specially designed for this industry. The patented Boncus system not only stands for a green, sustainable solution. Boncus also provides financial gain through smart technology. Due to the reuse of the filtered solvents, waste is no longer waste but a source of green energy. So that is a win-win-win: less pollution, biology does its job and there is a financial return on investment.

Triple win

With the techniques developed by Pure Infinity, sustainable business becomes a possibility for every factory: green emission treatment can be the new standard. With the purchase of air purification in the form of Vocus or Boncus you know that your business continuity is guaranteed, law enforcement is no longer a problem and the investment is well-arranged and in the longer term falling or even profitable.

Do you want to know more? Call Albert Waalkens +31650622288 or send an e-mail to info@pureinfinity.nl.

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Turn your solvent emissions into green energy with BONCUS!

We have developed the VOCUS biotrickling in the years 2005 – 2007 and have installed these all over Europe, also many in the Flexographic sector. Because the VOCUS is mainly suitable for the smaller solvent emissions, we have developed its bigger brother BONCUS. And where the VOCUS was only lówer in cost of ownership than a RTO, the BONCUS actually retúrns on the investment. Doing this by making green energy will make the BONCUS a game changer in the flexo industry.

What does the BONCUS do

Pure Infinity’s BONCUS will do 3 things when it’s set up in the factory:

  1. Cleaning the air emissions. Pure Infinity’s BONCUS technology will clean the solvent emissions and reaches very easily the standards as set in the newest solvent emission legislation of the EU. As such our BONCUS comes in the place of the conventional incinerator.
  2. Making energy. Our BONCUS technology will convert solvent emissions from the flexographic packaging industry into green gas. The production of the green gas is taking part in the biological reactor that is part of the BONCUS. The solvents are led into this bioreactor to be converted to green gas. Depending on the specific design the BONCUS is able to produce > 700 m3 green gas per 1000 kg of solvents.
  3. Valorisation of the green gas. The green gas has the quality of natural gas and can be injected into the national gas network to be sold as green energy. The other possibility is to use the gas as a fuel to create green electricity and heat to be used directly in the factory. When used in the factory it will reduce the use of (fossil) fuels like electricity and heat (for drying). We have seen calculations that total energy bills can be reduced > 80%. Another possibility is a hybrid; using the heat and selling the green electricity to the national grid. Feeding the electricity in the grid on the same way as it is done with solar energy.boncus

What is green gas

Green gas is gas with the same quality as natural gas as used for cooking, heating etc. but is produced without CO2 emission. The green gas will therefor reduce the CO2 footprint significantly. Green gas can be mixed with normal natural gas in the gas network to find its way to users of green energy. Green gas in the BONCUS is produced in a biological reactor that is part of the BONCUS. In this bioreactor the biology converts the solvents into methane (green gas). Because the green gas produced by the BONCUS is made from industrial waste that cannot be used in any food chain, the gas is classified in the EU as the most green energy there is.

Why is there a premium on the price of green energy

The current long term goals for the energy transition in Europe ensures that green energy is being sold with a significant premium price over the fossil fuels the prices depend obviously on the country and the specific situation. One of the triggers for the premium price is the EU Renewable Energy Directive RED. The obligations are being put on the energy suppliers. One of the possibilities they have is to buy green energy- or CO2 certificates to fulfil the obligations from the RED.

The Renewable Energy Directive in short:
In December 2018, the revised renewable energy directive 2018/2001/EU entered into force, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, aimed at keeping the EU a global leader in renewables and, more broadly, helping the EU to meet its emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement. The new directive establishes a new binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of at least 32%, with a clause for a possible upwards revision by 2023.  At least all EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020. https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/renewable-energy/renewable-energy-directive

For which companies is the BONCUS interesting

The BONCUS is interesting for flexographic companies that are medium size in the usage of solvent in their emissions or more. The more solvent the better the business case. In these companies we can achieve short payback times and create a significant mass of green gas. There are various parties that are keen in purchasing the green gas or CO2 certificates. It is always possible to use the energy directly in the factory with installation of a CHP engine that produces heat and electricity.

If a conventional incinerator is already in place, is the BONCUS still interesting?

Generally it is very interesting to setup a business case with the BONCUS to compare to the current situation. While the incinerator still has a value on the second hand market, it is a typical cash out system. The BONCUS has a payback straight from the beginning.

Please contact us if you’re looking for the best solutions for your company.

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New European legislation for the printing industry

The Best Available Technique (BAT) reference document (BREF) for the Surface Treatment using Solvents (STS) is under revision. This BREF is applicable for the flexible printing industry. The BREF is part of the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control). Latest Directive 2010/75/EU dates from 2010, the first STS BREF dates back from August 2007.

The new BREF has significant changes for the solvent emissions in the printing and flexographic industry and will get into force early 2020. It is therefore important to know the difference levels of the emission limits for your solvent emission.

Both the technologies of Pure Infinity, the BONCUS as well as the VOCUS are able to fully comply to the new legislation that is currently drafted in a pre- final draft that is open for publication in the end of 2019.  We can assist you with the new legislation and how to comply to the new STS BREF.

A BREF is the vehicle through which best available techniques (BAT) and emerging techniques are determined in a transparent manner, based on sound techno-economic information

Key element of a BREF (BAT conclusions) are adopted through committee procedure and are the reference for setting permit conditions to installations covered by the Industrial Emission Directive. Final meetings have been done in December 2018. The BREFs inform the relevant decision makers about what may be technically and economically available to industry in order to improve their environmental performance and consequently improve the whole environment.

Addressed activities

  • printing (by heatset web offset, flexography and packaging gravure, publication gravure);
  • painting and other coating activities (winding wires, cars, trucks, buses, trains, agricultural and construction equipment, ships and yachts, aircraft, wood and mirrors, furniture, metal coil, metal packaging, and other metal and plastic goods);
  • waterproofing (by painting and wood preservation);
  • adhesive application (in the manufacture of abrasives and adhesive tapes);
  • cleaning and degreasing in conjunction with other surface treatment activities;
  • impregnation for the preservation of wood.

Related Resources

To read the existing STS BREF as well as the latest published draft, please consult the website of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) or find the BREF directly over here.

Please find the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) in all languages here.

legislation printing industry

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Styrene emissions control in composites industry

Styrene emissions

Styrene emissions are inevitable in the polyester or composites industry. All companies in the industry are faced with the challenge to control the styrene in their air emissions. European and national clean air legislations are demanding significant reduction of the styrene before the air can be emitted to the atmosphere. There are 2 reasons for this legislation. The first is odour nuisance, styrene has a very low odour threshold which means that it can be noticed at very low concentrations. The other reason is the possibility of styrene to initiate photochemical SMOG which is a direct health issue in densely populated areas.

Pure Infinity’s solution for styrene removal: the VOCUS

Pure Infinity has the solution to reduce the styrene in the air emissions with her VOCUS bio trickling technology. In short and in the simplest way, the VOCUS can be described as a reactor through which the air will flow. While the air is in the reactor the biology in the reactor will “eat” the styrene from the air. We can design the VOCUS for any removal rate and any required outlet concentration. Even to very low values. What we want to say is, we can design the VOCUS tailored for any specific need.

Main VOCUS advantages

  1. The VOCUS does the job. Period. We have a proven track record for over 10 years, and we guarantee the performance;
  2. It has the lowest footprint compared to all other functioning technology in the market;
  3. The VOCUS has the lowest cost of ownership,
    1. filling made from plastics which does not need replacing
    2. No chemicals or additional (fossil) energy necessary
    3. Biotechnology, the biology works for free
    4. Extremely easy to operate, 15 minutes per week is what it takes
  4. The VOCUS is the ultimate and full green solution for your styrene emission
  5. Ease of mind, finally the styrene emission is solved at the lowest possible costs
  6. The VOCUS is developed in cooperation with the University of Valencia under several national and prestigues European FP7 Marie Curie grants enabling multiple PhD’s to be promoted on the subject of biological VOC (styrene) removal.

Please contact us to see if the VOCUS is also a match for your situation. Call us at +31650622288, or email us at a.waalkens@pureinfinity.nl.

styrene emissions

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