Leverkusen, 06.02.2023 - The Wuppermann Group has commissioned the renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) to re-evaluate the environmental impact of the Wuppermann Group's heat-to-coat strip galvanizing process compared to the conventional cold strip galvanizing process. The study now also includes the group's most recent galvanizing plant at the Hungary site. An investigation was also carried out for the first time for the tube mills.
For this purpose, the team led by Jochen Nühlen, Business Development Manager at Fraunhofer UMSICHT, has drawn up a life cycle assessment based on DIN EN ISO 14040 and evaluated the environmental impacts as climate effectiveness in tonnes of CO2 equivalents per tonne of hot-dip galvanized steel strip (t CO2 -eq./t). The result: The measures taken since the last study for the base year 2018 are having an effect. The CO2 advantage of the Wuppermann process, is now even greater where the application areas for galvanized hot-rolled strip and galvanized cold-rolled strip overlap - if both the use of cold-rolled and hot-rolled steel are technically possible for one application.
The galvanizing process including post-treatment and zinc causes 0.080 t CO2 -eq./t at the Moerdijk site in the Netherlands (WSN). The reference process causes CO2 emissions of 0.173 t CO2 eq./t. This results in a CO2 saving of 54%. At the Judenburg site in Austria (WA), 0.089 t CO2 eq./t CO2 emissions are produced, which corresponds to an advantage of 49%. At the
site in Győr, Hungary (WH), CO2 emissions amount to 0.116 t CO2 eq./t, which corresponds to an advantage of 33%. This includes the emissions from the production of the zinc and electricity consumed. The environmental impact of the input material hot strip is not included in this analysis.
One of the main reasons for the very low value at the Moerdijk site in the Netherlands is, in addition to many measures to reduce specific energy consumption, the switch to electricity from wind power based on European certificates of origin. This is because the largest contribution to CO2 emissions from the Wuppermann process - and thus also the most important lever for further emission reductions - is generated by the electrical energy required for the integrated pickling and galvanizing process. And this is one of two major differences to conventional cold strip galvanizing: in contrast to the standard process, Wuppermann does not use fossil fuels, but only electricity for heating. Wuppermann can avoid the energy-intensive recrystallisation annealing, which is why the maximum temperature in the process is around 450°C instead of 750°C. In addition, most of the input material is transported by ship, which also has a positive effect on CO2 emissions.
The Judenburg site in Austria can also report a very low value thanks to the use of electricity from hydro and wind power. In Hungary, the photovoltaic plant commissioned in 2022 also contributes to the good value. In particular at the two locations supplied with green electricity, the environmental impact of zinc thus remains essentially the same, with each accounting for around 90% of the reported CO2 emissions. The production and origin of the zinc therefore play a major role in further reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the galvanised products.
Taking into account the production volumes of galvanised steel strip at the respective sites, this will result in total CO2- savings of around 60,000 tonnes for 2022 as a whole. Customers can calculate their individual savings using the CO2 calculator on the Wuppermann Group website.
"Thanks to the first study by Fraunhofer UMSICHT about three years ago, we already knew that our special heat-to-coat process emits less carbon dioxide than galvanizing processes commonly used on the market. Now we are pleased to see that the measures taken are having the desired effect and increasing our competitive advantage," says Karsten Pronk, technical managing director of Wuppermann Staal Nederland B.V.
Low CO2 emissions also in tube production
The tube production facilities that have now been examined for the first time also impress with low CO2 emissions in the production process. Here, too, the two Austrian sites in Altmünster and Judenburg benefit from the purchase of electricity from hydroelectric and wind power as well as their own electricity generation by means of photovoltaic systems. The life cycle assessment based on DIN EN ISO 14040 considers the environmental impact as the climate impact of the tube manufacturing process in tonnes of CO2 equivalents per tonne of longitudinally welded steel tube (t CO2 -eq./t). In Judenburg (Austria), the tube manufacturing process produces 0.014 t CO2 -eq./t, in Altmünster (also in Austria) 0.042 t CO2 -eq./t and in Małomice (Poland) 0.070 t CO2 -eq./t. The two main drivers for the difference between the two Austrian plants are the areas of transport and packaging. This analysis does not include the environmental impact of the input material hot-rolled strip or pickled or galvanised hot-rolled strip.
"The life cycle assessment enables us to provide our customers with important information about the CO2 footprint of our tube production. At the same time, it helps us to identify the fields of action through which we can further reduce our environmental impact in the area of tube and profile production," Hubert Pletz, Managing Director of Wuppermann Austria GmbH, summarises.
"Avoiding CO2 emissions in our manufacturing processes is a key differentiator and thus now an integral part of our strategy - with the clear goal of avoiding all emissions directly caused by us as soon as possible," adds Johannes Nonn, Spokesman of the Executive Board of Wuppermann AG.
Please find further information about the environmental impact study here.