ESG - Environmental Social Governance

Sealing sheets become more environmentally friendly thanks to bioethanol

KLINGER Dichtungstechnik switches to environmentally friendly solvents, helping reduce the carbon footprint of its sealing sheet production.

If you’ve ever had chewing gum stuck to the sole of your shoes, you can imagine the problem of dealing with elastomers. Producing sealing sheets at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik involves large quantities of the sticky material. The challenge here is to prevent it from adhering to containers, tools, and machines. Solvents play a vital role in this, and ethanol is the substance of choice for managing the sticky elastomer compounds. We have now implemented an environmentally friendly solution.

In the production of sealing sheets, ethanol flows in a closed circuit. The colorless, highly flammable liquid can be forever reused after it has been in contact with the elastomer, making it fully recyclable. But waste and evaporation losses do occur over time, so that the circuit must be topped up with 40,000 liters of ethanol per year. Having previously used ethanol of fossil origin, KLINGER Dichtungstechnik switched to a sustainable alternative at the beginning of August 2023: bioethanol.

The HSE manager at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik, Stephan Piringer, has already been investigating the use of bioethanol for more than five years.

Contacts mentioned in the article:

Stephan Piringer, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Manager at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik

KLINGERSIL products save 100 tons of CO2

“This saves us around 100 tons of CO2 per year, helping us reduce the environmental footprint of our KLINGERSIL products.”

Stephan Piringer, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Manager at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik

Bioethanol essentially has the same chemical make-up as fossil ethanol and can be used without having to make any change in the production process. Stephan first considered finding an alternative to fossil ethanol five years ago. At the time, the venture failed for lack of a reliable supply.

Reducing the carbon footprint

Having found a bio-refinery capable of supplying the required volumes, his plan has finally borne fruit. KLINGER Dichtungstechnik obtains its bioethanol from an Austrian manufacturer located only about 300 kilometers from the Gumpoldskirchen production site. “Sourcing from a regional supplier avoids exploiting developing and emerging countries while at the same time strengthening our domestic economy,” says Stephan. Made from wood industry waste using biological-chemical processes that convert the cellulose into ethanol, bioethanol is exceptionally environment-friendly in its production. The fact that only wood waste from sustainably managed Austrian forests is used as raw material further improves the environmental balance. Stephan explains: “No tree is felled specifically to produce bioethanol: We’re benefiting exclusively from the efficient use of residual materials.”

"We are working non-stop to reduce our carbon footprint. With bioethanol, we have found an effective means of achieving major improvements with relatively little effort.”

Stephan Piringer, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Manager at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik

Fact Box

Solvents

Ethanol is only one of several solvents used in the production of elastomer sealing sheets at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik. The solvents are added to the viscous, rubbery wet mesh so that it remains processable and does not adhere. Safety is of special concern here, as ethanol is a pure chemical substance and as such highly flammable. That’s why the production plants at KLINGER Dichtungstechnik have an explosion-proof design.

Improving sustainability is a priority at the site of KLINGER Dichtungstechnik in Gumpoldskirchen, Austria.

Fact box

Did you know ...

  • … that KLINGER Dichtungstechnik produces around 3,200 tons of compressed non-asbestos fiber (CNAF) sheet material per year? Made using calenders, their exact composition is optimized for mechanical, chemical or temperature resistance, depending on their intended application.
  • … that bioethanol, which is used in the production of sealing sheets, is particularly environment-friendly as it is made from industrial wood waste and therefore not in competition with arable land used for growing food or animal fodder?
  • … that the availability of bioethanol has greatly increased with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic? During the pandemic, the industry’s production capacities were completely tied up with the manufacture of disinfectants, which are also ethanol-based.
  • … that ethanol has the ideal balance of chemical properties to optimize the processing properties of elastomers? The technology for producing and recovering this solvent has been researched and perfected over many years and is widely used in the processing industry today.
  • … that bioethanol is also added to vehicle fuels? Petrol can contain up to ten percent of this additive. You can identify this fuel at the pump by the designation E10. The addition of bioethanol to fuel is intended to reduce carbon emissions from vehicle engines.
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