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An efficient, environmentally friendly technology for extracting montan waxes, even with a declining wax content in the raw material.
Experts are predicting good prospects over the next few years for near-natural waxes for use in the cosmetic, paint and paper industries, and an increasing demand for highly demanding technical wax applications.
The outlook is good for montan wax extracted from brown coal. Its advantages for technical applications are undisputed: Its hardness and relatively low melting point are frequently mentioned, but its transition from a solid to a low viscosity liquid within a very narrow temperature range is another outstanding feature of its physical properties – which makes its hardness and polishability very similar to that of natural carnauba wax.
EPC specialists in its Leuna subsidiary have recently developed an efficient, environmentally friendly extraction technology that makes the use of brown coal economically viable, even though its wax content is decreasing. In Eastern Germany, it is currently down to between 8 and 9 percent. The "solid-liquid extraction" method uses an environmentally compatible extraction agent, which achieves a consistently high wax yield in continuous operation by avoiding inconsistent and incomplete extraction from the pellets.
We have been working with strong partners for many years to develop our processes. Renowned institutes – such as the Thuringian Institute for Textile and Plastics Research (TITK) and the Fraunhofer Institute – value their cooperation with EPC. In this way, we have built up an impressive potential for innovation. Working together with our customers, this process development has created many attractive new processes for new products. In recent years, EPC has designed and constructed a large number of research and pilot plants for various fields of application. The most recent has been the pilot carbon fibre plant at the TITK in Rudolstadt.
Simulating the crucial basic operations (e.g. reactions, rectifications, washing) of a process helps to identify and eliminate any weak points. Safety measures can be derived from the results of the simulation, and simulations also help the EPC specialists to select the most suitable technologies.
The layout of a plant depends on a wide range of constraints and conditions, for example the process requirements, the amount and arrangement of the equipment, fire and explosion protection requirements, operating and maintenance concepts, whether the plant is located in a new or existing building, open or closed architecture, and so on. In each case, EPC can develop the optimal layout for the plant and meet the customer's specific requirements. This applies to both the construction of a new plant and to the extension or revamping of an existing plant.