Cutting-Edge Facilities Bolster Custom Synthesis

New multi-purpose production lines offer great flexibility

By Boris E. Bosch, Saltigo GmbH

A custom manufacturer’s success depends upon its ability to satisfy the often complex and rapidly changing requirements of its customers. Saltigo GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of specialty chemicals company Lanxess, currently is implementing a major investment program to ensure its synthesis capacity remains at the cutting edge of technology and meets the needs of customer projects.

In this program, Saltigo — which is headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, has production facilities there and in Dormagen, Germany, and employs around 1,200 staff worldwide — is investing approximately €60 million (over $70 million) in renovating and expanding plants at its Leverkusen site; this will significantly increase Saltigo's solid isolation capacity. All the work is set to be completed by the end of 2017.

Two new multi-purpose production lines in the central organics pilot plant (ZeTO) are core elements of the current renovation and expansion activities. They have been specifically designed for producing large volumes of solids for the agrochemical and other industries. To this end, the production lines are being equipped with stirred-tank reactors with a capacity of up to 16 m3 (Figure 1). To make room, a number of smaller pieces of equipment have been dismantled. With the new reactors, ZeTO will have more than 70 stirred vessels.

A Nutsche filter/dryer (Figure 2) and a centrifuge/dryer combination are used to isolate the solid substances in the two lines. The high capacity centrifuge in particular eases isolating fine-grained agrochemical active ingredients and intermediates.

When it came to choosing the centrifuge and Nutsche filter, Saltigo opted for equipment made from Hastelloy, an extremely corrosion resistant nickel-based alloy, because an increasing number of agrochemical products contain fluorine and, thus, exhibit corrosive characteristics. While stainless steel equipment would have been significantly cheaper, it would have offered only limited corrosion resistance when manufacturing these kinds of products.

The ongoing investment project also will add an active container storage tank farm to the bulk storage options at the site. This will ensure more efficient supplies of raw materials and solvents to production in the ZeTO and the adjacent Plant 4. In addition, ISO tank containers stored there can be filled or emptied via a pipe junction connected directly to the production facilities. The plans include a reserve for further expansion of these storage capacities at a later date and for connecting more facilities.

The construction began in the summer of 2016, and work now is at a very advanced stage. The new facilities will be completed within the scheduled budget and timeframe. They will be ready for customer projects at the end of 2017.

Once completed, the site will have used approximately 200 m.t. of steel and 1,000 m3 of concrete. The project also involves installing more than 100 new pieces of equipment and connecting them using a total of 14 km of pipes. Several pipe junctions will ensure that switching between the different pieces of equipment (as required by the particular synthesis order) is easy.

More Than Stirred Vessels And Pipes

The new multi-purpose facilities have been designed from the very beginning to deal with numerous eventualities. Significant investment focused on automation technology. The finished facilities will include more than 2,000 sensors and actuators, all controlled using a central system. This comprehensive process automation will enable Saltigo to combine equipment with the highest level of flexibility without the need to add automation components at a later date.

The new facilities also are at the cutting edge of technology in terms of energy efficiency. Right from the planning stage, efficient and sustainable use of energy was a top priority. Speed-regulated pumps and motors and multi-stage cooling and heating systems are just a few examples of how Saltigo made this a reality. In addition, the high level of automation and the resulting detailed information about process performance in the facilities will help make the plant particularly energy-efficient.


BORIS E. BOSCH is plant manager for Saltigo GmbH in Leverkusen, Germany. Email him at boris.bosch@saltigo.com

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