SWISS KRONO in Żary reduces CO2 emission by its activities26.11.2020

Climate change, which has been intensifying over the last years, is not only a subject of discussion among scientists, but also an increasingly important element of public debate. This results from the fact that we ourselves feel the consequences of such changes, e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves or torrential rains, in a direct manner.

An increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is believed to be the main cause of “global warming”. In order to restrict further increase in the average global temperature, it is necessary to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This goal was included in the Paris Agreement signed in 2015 by 192 countries, including the EU.

In December 2019, the European Commission presented further goals related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stipulated in the document entitled the European Green Deal.  According to this document, Europe will become climate-neutral by 2050. This will happen if the European Parliament and the European Council adopt a new climate law. Then the current objective of the EU to reduce emissions by 2030 by 40% would be updated to a more ambitious level.

Carbon neutrality, which is also known as zero net emissions or climate neutrality, means a balance between CO2 emissions and its absorption from the air by forests, soils and oceans, which are called carbon sinks. In order to reach carbon neutrality, all the global greenhouse gas emissions will have to be balanced by the absorption of carbon dioxide. (www.europarl.europa.eu). Our impact, that is the impact of human beings, on reaching climate neutrality is actually limited to controlling global greenhouse gas emissions.

SWISS KRONO Sp. z o.o. in Żary is a leading manufacturer of wood-based panels in Poland. Its annual output amounts to more than 1.5 million cubic meters of a very wide range of panels, i.e. OSB, raw chipboards and laminated chipboards, MDF, floor panels and kitchen worktops.

Care for the environment is one of the priorities of SWISS KRONO. Over the last years, the company has spent more than PLN 100 million on investments related to environmental protection. The most crucial ones include two state-of-the art electrostatic precipitators, which purify gases from timber drying kilns used for the production of all types of raw boards.

The company has been conducting activities aiming at reducing CO₂ emissions for many years. Right from the beginning of its operations, the company decided not to use coal as fuel. Later on, the company resigned from using heating oil. In 2012, the company started to gradually limit the use of natural gas, which used to be the main source of energy. In 2012, its share in the entire energy balance constituted 25%. Currently, it is below 5%.

Natural gas, being fossil fuel, has been partially replaced by biomass, which as a renewable source of energy is neutral for CO₂ balance, and by heat recovered from other processes. Heat recovery has allowed us to limit the amount of dusts burned, generated when boards are manufactured, and which also constitute biomass.   Thanks to the initiatives implemented over the last 8 years, we have managed to limit the use of dusts for the production of heat energy by 38%.

The SWISS KRONO plant in Żary features a chemical department producing resins used for the production of wood-based panels. Approximately 25% of such resins are used on site, whereas the remainder is sold to various companies all around Europe.

Since 2000, we have been using heat energy released from the cooling process of devices in chemical production in order to dry MDF fibers. Approximately 40% of heat energy needed for this purpose comes from high-temperature reaction in the production of organic resins.

Gunnar Geppert, a member of the Management Board of SWISS KRONO, has developed an innovative method of using “waste” heat energy generated during the processes of chemical absorption to dry wood chips needed to produce OSB. Due to its low temperature, which is approx. 40 °C, such heat has not been used before.  However, thanks to a modification of the chemical process, the temperature of the cooling water has been increased up to 65 °C. This has allowed us to use such heat effectively and economically for the purposes of initial drying of OSB in a belt dryer. Since April 2019, 35% of energy used for the initial drying of wood chips needed for the production of OSB at SWISS KRONO has come from a low-temperature reaction at the chemical plant. “The process we have developed is very innovative. That is why we wish to apply for a patent in the nearest future”, emphasizes Gunnar Geppert.

Using waste heat from the processes that are part of the reactions at a chemical plant ensures considerable savings thanks to the reduction in gas consumption. Thanks to various technical investments made at SKPL over the last eight years, the consumption of gas has been reduced to as little as 10% compared to the previous level. We have reduced the emissions of detrimental greenhouse gas, that is carbon dioxide, to the same extent.

Using absorption heat from chemical production has other advantages as well. For instance, better cooling of reactors producing resins has increased their productivity. Furthermore, consumption of water for cooling purposes has been reduced by approx. 25%.

All the activities conducted so far have reduced the expenditure of primary energy per one unit of boards manufactured at our plant by as much as 15%.

Other measures which are contributing to the reduction in the consumption of energy and CO₂ emissions include implementing smart LED lighting in warehouses, as well as replacing combustion forklift trucks by electric ones. As a result of the change in warehouse lighting, the consumption of electricity has decreased 14 times compared to traditional sources.  More than a half of the forklift trucks used at our plant are battery operated. Recently, we have purchased a battery operated forklift truck, which may lift goods weighing up to 15 tons.

At SWISS KRONO, we are constantly planning new investments, which will enable us to optimize energy consumption, reduce CO2 emissions as well as reduce costs. This is the path which currently must be followed by all modern and socially responsible companies.

Gunnar Geppert, Jędrzej Kasprzak

References:

www.europarl.europa.eu/news/pl/headlines/society/20190926STO62270/czym-jest-neutralnosc-emisyjna-i-jak-mozemy-ja-osiagnac-do-2050-r

Urszula Luboińska, Emisja gazów cieplarnianych. Wybrane zagadnienia dotyczące emisji CO2 w Polsce [Greenhouse gas emissions. Selected topics related to CO2 emissions in Poland]. Opracowania tematyczne OT–683, Kancelaria Senatu [Chancellery of the Senate], Warsaw 2020

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