German speciality chemicals firm Evonik will further expand capacity for production of its Sepuran hollow fibre membranes in Schörfling and Lenzing, Austria. The company already put into operation a new hollow fibre spinning facility in Schörfling at the beginning of the year. Evonik CEO Christian Kullmann announced the construction of a further production line: “We are going full throttle for the green transformation and are investing a mid-double-digit million euro amount as the next step to grow our membranes business.” Construction in Schörfling and Lenzing is scheduled to start in early 2024, with completion planned for the first half of 2025.
The growth of the membrane business follows the group’s strategy. “We invest in innovative green technologies that offer superior sustainability benefits to our customers,” says Kullmann. “The dynamic development of the membrane business shows that the green transformation is underway and that we are playing a key role in it.” By 2030, Evonik aims to increase the proportion of revenue generated by Next Generation Solutions to more than from 43-50%.
With membranes for the treatment of biogas and the extraction of hydrogen, for example, Evonik says it is making an important contribution to the energy industry. The trend towards renewable energy is driving the steadily growing demand in the membrane business.
At the heart of Evonik’s membrane technology are fine hollow fibres made of a high-performance polymer specially developed by Evonik that is highly resistant to pressure and temperature. The upcoming capacity expansion includes construction of an additional plant for spinning hollow fibres and the expansion of the infrastructure necessary for producing membrane modules at the Schörfling site. The neighbouring site in Lenzing will expand production of the required raw material (high-performance plastic).
Evonik’s production in Schörfling at the Attersee is already powered entirely by renewable energy, green electricity from wind, hydropower, or biomass fuels the production facility for membranes. Since the beginning of 2022, the specialty chemicals company is also covering 100% of its gas requirements with biomethane from regional production. By switching to environmentally friendly energy, Evonik is reducing its direct CO2 emissions in Upper Austria by around 5,000 tonnes/year.
Since the first products were presented in 2011, Evonik has steadily developed the membranes business. Within 12 years, it became a globally recognised technology leader for efficient gas separation. To date, Evonik has supplied membranes to more than 1,000 reference plants worldwide for the biogas market alone.
Sepuran hollow fibre membranes can separate gases such as methane (CH4), nitrogen (N2), and hydrogen (H2) particularly efficiently from gas mixtures. The advantage of Evonik’s membrane technology lies in the more precise separation of gases and in higher productivity.
Sepuran N2 membranes for efficient nitrogen production are used, for example, for inerting aircraft tanks. Sepuran Noble membranes extract the hydrogen transported through the natural gas pipelines from the CH4/H2 gas mixture selectively at the H2 take-off points. Sepuran NG membranes enable efficient natural gas processing from sources with high CO2 concentration. Sepuran Green membranes enable efficient biogas upgrading from organic and circular substrates.