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.
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.”