Professional article „ecoMetals“ (short version)

ecoMetals campaign shows companies’ innovation prowess Focus on energy efficiency and resource conservation

In view of global climate change, new approaches are called for in order to reduce the consumption of energy and natural resources. The GIFA/METEC/THERMPROCESS/NEWCAST trade fair quartet will be presenting especially sustainable innovations in the foundry industry within the new “ecoMetals” campaign. A special logo attracts visitors’ attention to the eco-eyecatchers.

When it comes to conserving raw materials, the foundry industry is a pioneer. More than 90 per cent of all the parts it produces are made by melting down scrap. At the four international trade fairs GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS and NEWCAST, Messe Düsseldorf is spotlighting the trend towards higher environmental awareness with the “ecoMetals” campaign. By participating in this initiative, exhibitors presenting substantially new developments in energy and resource efficiency from 28 June to 2 July 2011 will attract special attention – their exhibits and stands will be marked with the “ecoMetals” logo. Besides more efficient machines and systems, progressive processes and services are also needed. “All of the ecoMetals solutions being presented can claim to be groundbreaking in their respective markets, viable and sustainable,” says Friedrich-Georg Kehrer, Director of the trade fair quartet.

Bar set high
“Demand for more energy-efficient products is a constantly recurring factor on the customer side as well,” says Kehrer. Resource-saving also pays off in terms of profitability, and manufacturers everywhere are therefore optimising their systems and processes – no matter whether their business is building energy-saving industrial furnaces, engineering new alloys, casting robust rotor hubs for wind-energy plants or designing rigid light-metal components for cars. “The economical use of energy and materials is becoming an increasingly important competitive factor,” says Max Schumacher, environment expert of the German Foundry Association (BDG). “The industry is part of the solution.”

One important building block for achieving climate protection is innovative light metals, such as those being researched at the Institute of Metallurgy of the Technical University of Clausthal. Lightweight constructions are becoming widespread in areas such as vehicle manufacture. At the same time, the power density of engines is increasing – and cast parts like cylinder heads are being designed with ever more complex geometries. “We are responding to these requirements by developing high-strength materials that cast well,” says Babette Tonn, professor of foundry technology.

Industrial furnaces, which are needed to manufacture and process metals, are also a focus of attention. 45 to 60 per cent of the overall costs for producing primary aluminium, for example, are accounted for by electricity. “If a furnace operator manages to cut electricity or gas consumption by ten per cent through intelligent upgrading of furnace controls, that can have a colossal impact on profitability,” says Heinz-Jürgen Büchner, an analyst at IKB Deutsche Industriebank.

Simulation technology avoids trial and error
Simulation techniques can also help to save energy. The Aachen-based company MAGMA Gießereitechnologie offers such software for simulating casting processes – and is presenting itself as a participant in the ecoMetals initiative. “Simulation makes it possible to design the casting technology to achieve the best results, both technically and economically,” says Jörg Sturm, head of sales and engineering at Magma. “This cuts expenditure in two areas – material input and smelting requirements.”



Tania Vellen and Corinna Kuhn
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