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Being an FRP (fibre-reinforced plastics) manufacturer means being a source of VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions, Exel Composites has invested considerable resources over the years in tackling VO emissions into the environment.
Exel says that it wants to be a pioneer not only in composites technology but also in the field of environmental protection. It explains that one of the main ecological concerns at Exel, as in the composites industry in general, is styrene emissions. Styrene is a volatile component of polyester resin. Different methods are available to clean the styrene-contaminated air inside and outside production facilities. However, Exel explains, they are often very energy-intensive. When presented with a possibility to explore biotrickling filtration in cooperation with the University of Valencia in Spain and Pure Air Solutions from the Netherlands, it jumped at the possibility. “We needn’t think twice about participating in this EU-funded project seeking to use biotrickling filtration as a sustainable and cost-efficient alternative for styrene emission control,” says Mr Callum Gough, SVP Operations of Exel Composites.
“Biotrickling filtration is a combination of a biofilter and a bioscrubber. It is a biological system that uses clean and natural processes to remove VOCs,” says Mr Eric Moussiaux, General Manager of Exel Composites’ Belgium unit. “The styrene fumes are absorbed in water and decomposed by bacteria. The pilot unit erected at Oudenaarde factory proved to be very efficient. We will certainly do the necessary investments to take this process into use,” he continues.
The 4-year-long project, called Next Air Biotreat, was headed by Professor Carmen Gabaldón from the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Valencia. “We are extremely pleased with the results of the project,” she says. “In comparison with conventional technologies, biological VOC treatment is economically beneficial, it contributes to a lower ecological footprint and implies a reduction of CO2,” Gabaldón continues.
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