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Dürr opening up new environmental technology business field for ventilation air methane (VAM)

10/09/2012

Exhaust air purification systems for coal mines

Bietigheim-Bissingen, October 9, 2012 - Dürr is opening up a new environmental technology business field with a growing market potential. With its VAM RTO exhaust air purification systems, the company is helping to minimize emissions of environmentally harmful methane from coal mines. Methane is the second most frequent greenhouse gas after CO2, though it is significantly more environmentally harmful than CO2. To date, Dürr has received two orders from China and the US for its technology which is used to burn the methane in the ventilation air from mines. Operators can use the waste heat from this process to generate electricity cost-effectively. Experts believe that this technology has great potential in the most important coal producing nations: China, USA, India and Australia.

Methane gas contained in the coal seams is released during the underground mining of coal. To avoid explosions, the pits are constantly ventilated. The methane-containing waste air expelled by the ventilation system is generally discharged untreated into the atmosphere. Although this is still permissible today in most countries, methane emissions contribute around 21 times more to global warming than the same volume of CO2.

The VAM RTO technology developed by Dürr permits the methane to be dealt with sustainably and cost-effectively. The regenerative thermal oxidation process (VAM RTO), in which the gas is burned at approx. 1,000 degrees Celsius, significantly reduces emissions. If a steam turbine is connected, electricity can be generated for use in the mine or for feeding into the grid. In many countries proceeds can also be generated from emissions certificates.

In the province of Shanxi, the largest area of coal reserves in China, Dürr recently won a VAM RTO order to the value of more than € 10 million. Dürr is to install twelve RTO modules for the disposal of ventilation air methane in the Gao He mine by March 2013.

The company had already received a smaller order from the US last year. Dürr supplied three RTO modules for a coal mine in West Virginia which are enabling some 320,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent to be scrubbed annually.

According to Ralph Heuwing, CFO and the member of the Dürr AG Board of Management with responsibility for the Clean Technology Systems division: "The increasing importance of environmental protection and energy efficiency is creating new markets for proven Dürr technologies. Our VAM RTOs mean that we can be part of this trend and generate further growth in the Clean Technology Systems division. In the next few years we anticipate a large number of new orders for VAM scrubbing systems".

The greatest potential exists in China where coal plays a substantial role in meeting the growing energy demand. At the same time, the country is increasingly intent on ensuring that its economic growth is sustainable. According to the current five-year plan, pollutant emissions are to be reduced by 16 to 17%. To achieve this, investment in sustainable technologies is being promoted more strongly.

Dürr is a mechanical and plant engineering group that holds leading positions in the world market in its areas of operation. It generates a good 80% of its sales in business with the automotive industry. It also supplies the aircraft, machinery, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries with innovative production and environmental technology. The Dürr Group operates in the market with four divisions. Paint and Assembly Systems plans and builds paintshops and final assembly systems for the automobile and aircraft industry. Application Technology provides automated paint application, sealing, and glueing with its robot technologies. Machinery and systems from the Measuring and Process Systems division are used in balancing and cleaning processes, in engine and transmission manufacturing and in final vehicle assembly, among other areas. The fourth division, Clean Technology Systems, is focused on processes to improve energy efficiency and on exhaust air purification technology. Dürr has 50 business locations in 23 countries worldwide and approximately 7,300 employees. The Group achieved sales of € 1.9 billion in 2011.


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