Environmental standards for the Chinese market


v2-smogBecause of its air pollution, Chinese Government has initiated various measures designed to advance environmental protection. Many foundries are affected by the new regulations too – but not the customers of StrikoWestofen Asia (Taicang). This is because melting furnaces and dosing furnaces made by the StrikoWestofen Group fall significantly below even the new maximum permissible limits for energy consumption and dust emissions. High-quality materials, process control and optimised insulations ensure minimum losses. The Westomat and StrikoMelter systems are a convincing proposition as a result of their energy efficiency, their low metal loss and their outstanding cost efficiency. As Rainer Erdmann, Managing Director of StrikoWestofen Asia, explains, “Not only customers and employees benefit from our highly efficient furnace systems; the local climate does too.”

For years now, the burden on the environment has been rising along with the rapidly growing economy in China. It is not without good reason that the People’s Republic of China has the highest CO2 emission values worldwide. Now the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has initiated measures to curb environmental pollution by introducing a number of new programs designed to keep the air pollution in the country in check. The energy-intensive industries such as aluminium foundries focussed on by these measures have to undergo government investigations. One of the aims of the government is to close all foundries that do not comply with the new environmental protection or workplace safety regulations. This is only one of the reasons why the demand for technology from StrikoWestofen is on the increase. The StrikoMelters installed in China since 2009 save the Chinese economy the equivalent of metal losses amounting to 19,700 tons of aluminium per year. The energy consumption is down by 30,400,000 m3 of natural gas, which means a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions amounting to about 60,800 tons of CO2 per year in comparison with the technology usual in the market up to now. This corresponds with the CO2 emissions of about 38,000 passenger cars. And the foundry saves money too: at an average melting performance of 9,000 tons per year and furnace system, ¥ 2,170,000 are saved annually on metal losses and ¥ 796,000 on natural gas in comparison with conventional technology. In other words, the investment in a new StrikoMelter already pays for itself in the first year.

Energy-efficient reduction of emissions

Foundries working with the melting and dosing furnaces from the StrikoWestofen Group provide optimum conditions here. They benefit from systems with low energy consumption and extremely low emission values. “With our StrikoMelter and Westomat furnaces, we offer advanced technologies that make a significant contribution to the energy-efficient and cost-optimised operation of foundry systems,” explains Rainer Erdmann, Managing Director of StrikoWestofen Asia. The CO2 emissions drop in step with the reduction of the energy consumption. “The relevant values of all our furnaces fall significantly below the stringent maximum energy consumption limits,” Erdman explains. Fire-resistant materials such as high-strength aluminium titanate, optimised insulations and state-of-the-art process technology developed by German engineers ensure economical and environmentally sound operating procedures: with 525 kilowatt hours for the production of one ton of ready-to-pour metal, for example, the “StrikoMelter PurEfficiency” demonstrates its high energy efficiency. At times, an energy consumption of only 489 kWh/t has been measured for furnaces of this series. In addition, its longevity and its high melting capacity make it extremely economical. Westomat dosing furnaces only require two thirds of the energy consumed by conventional casting ladle systems. In addition, constant dosing cycles and uniform melting quality allow highly efficient operation with minimal scrap rates.

The requirements are getting stricter in terms of dust emissions too. Thus, the limit for dust emissions was reduced from 50 ppm to 20 ppm in many provinces – a limit that StrikoMelters do not usually find it hard to comply with, even without a filter system. For example, measurements recently carried out on a StrikoMelter MH II-T 6000/4000 in the province of Jiangsu showed dust emissions which even fall below the limits of the German technical instructions on air quality control (TA Luft) in spite of 50 percent reclaimed material being melted.

Besides high pollution values, the lack of safety standards in many Chinese aluminium foundries is an issue too. Foundries using technologies from StrikoWestofen are on the safe side here: “The closed furnace system and the easy setup and operation using the ProDos 3 control make our Westomat furnaces especially safe and user-friendly,” Erdmann emphasizes.

Minimising metal loss

The Chinese Foundry Association FICMES estimates that about 10,000 foundries inspected by the government regarding compliance with the environmental specifications can expect sanctions, some foundries, among them aluminium foundries, even being threatened by closure. This increases the market demand for highly developed process technology. However, it is not just due to Chinese environmental policy that foundry operators often have to change their way of thinking; it is also because of the excessive metal losses caused by outdated systems. The StrikoMelter offers a virtually complete metal yield of up to 99.7 percent. Westomat furnaces also only allow low metal losses of 0.06 percent – a reduction of about 80 percent in comparison with ladle systems. “Both measurements are based on real-world foundry conditions and have not been equalled by any other competitor yet,” Erdmann emphasizes. Also, marginal metal losses and low energy consumptions reduce the operating costs, and this makes the StrikoMelter and Westomat systems very interesting in terms of ecology and economy. At the same time, the use of energy-efficient melting and dosing furnaces sustainably improves the CO2 balances of aluminium foundries and makes an important contribution to environmental protection. These were some of the principal factors allowing StrikoWestofen to become the market leader in Asia.