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  • Dear Readers!

    Once again another successful year is drawing to a close for our family-run company. This sentence, or one similar, can be read really quite often. In our case, a look back at the editorial of our 2018 Christmas issue might bring on a smile. Exactly one year ago, we spoke of the great business opportunities in both the recycling industry and the transport sector. At the time, we wrote in our editorial: “We have been able to make the most of these opportunities by taking steps to acquire DSD – Duales System Deutschland GmbH (and to purchase shares in Transdev). Both transactions must still be approved by the relevant authorities.”

    As we know today, twelve months on, the acquisition of shares in the Transdev Group worked out perfectly while the other – DSD – has, at least for the time being, been blocked by the German monopolies commission. Having assessed the packaging recycling market last year, we believed that DSD did not have a dominant market position – something that has been further underlined by the latest developments. The customer structure within the Dual System has changed dramatically since the Schwarz Group became, practically overnight, one of the five largest recycling companies after taking over Tönsmeier and expanding into the packaging market with its renamed firm, PreZero. REWE, one of the three biggest distributors of sales packaging in Germany, has changed its Dual System provider and moved to Reclay. And, on 19 November, a press release was published in the media that Aldi has also changed its provider and is now licensing its packaging with Interseroh instead of DSD. It will be interesting to see if and to what extent these latest developments will impact on the Regional Appeal Court’s ruling.

    Looking at the world of politics, 2019 has ended with the German government bringing out a concrete climate action package. The recycling industry, which has played a major – if not decisive – role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions since the introduction of the TaSi [Technical Directive on the Recycling, Treatment and Disposal of Municipal Waste] in 2005, is rubbing its eyes in disbelief having read the 22 pages. A mere 16 lines have been devoted to our industry. Perhaps they are already simply taking the positive impact we have on tackling climate change for granted? It is probably more likely that they continue to underestimate the potential of recycling to combat climate change. And there is still so much unused potential. Were the substitution rate, i.e. the share of recycled raw materials used in industrial production processes, to be doubled from the current 15% to 30%, then this alone would lead to emissions of CO2 equivalents being cut by around 60 million tonnes. The fact remains that comprehensive recycling measures will enable the climate goals to be met. Indeed, REMONDIS shows that this is possible every single day.

    With this optimistic outlook, I would like to thank you all for your great support and collaboration over the last twelve months. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2020.

    Yours Ludger Rethmann

Replacement work needed every three to six years

  • The most notable use of the electromembrane process around the world is the electrolysis of sodium chloride to produce chlorine. If the performance levels of the plants are to be maintained, however, then the membranes have to be replaced regularly – generally every three to six years depending on the current density deployed. XERVON IPS has developed a package of highly specialised services for this particular field of work.

Environmentally friendly technology

Chlorine is one of the most important basic chemicals. Indeed this substance plays a significant role – either directly or indirectly – in up to 70% of all chemical products. As this chemical is so important, many companies choose to produce the chlorine they need themselves using electrolysis. The majority of modern chlor-alkali electrolysis plants use the membrane process. This environmentally friendly technology delivers a particularly pure end product. The main disadvantage of this system, however, is that the membranes can only be used for a limited period of time as foreign particles tend to stick to them and disrupt the process. Replacing these delicate membranes is both complex and time-consuming. At the end of the day, an electrolysis plant is made up of 162 elements, all of which must be dismantled so that the membranes inside the system can be replaced.

Specialisation means greater precision & faster work

    • Around ten years ago, XERVON IPS, a company owned by XERVON Instandhaltung, developed a special package of services to speed up this complex task of replacing membranes and to save its customers both time and money. One of the biggest strengths of these services – which are being continuously optimised and fine-tuned – is that they are so highly specialised.

    The operatives carrying out the work, for example, are experienced industrial mechanics who have taken part in a specialist training course that looks in detail at the process of replacing membranes. Furthermore, they receive additional training ahead of each individual project to learn all about the specific features of the customer’s facility.

No room for error

Thanks to these measures, the staff have become true experts in their field enabling them to deliver their services faster and with greater precision. These are two major advantages as there is no room for error when it comes to replacing the membranes. Not when they are dismantling the individual elements and not when they are installing the new membranes. Even the smallest of kinks or the slightest damage will affect the way the membrane works. If tiny microparticles get left behind on the anodes or cathodes, then they may cause irreparable damage to the new membrane so that the whole replacement procedure has to be repeated.

Being experienced maintenance experts, XERVON IPS specialised in replacing membranes in electrolysis plants – or remembraning as it is also known – a long while ago.

Besides dismantling the units and replacing the membranes, XERVON IPS’ portfolio also includes carrying out pressure tests on the individual elements, checking the plant parts for signs of wear and tear, examining the coating and, where necessary, performing the recoating work. Once the plant is up and running again, the operatives monitor the operations via a computer, carry out a plausibility check and document all the work they have done. XERVON IPS has added a new service this year: processing the sets of screws used in the plant. While to some this work may initially seem to be of little consequence, it does in fact create some major cost advantages for the customers. With each individual electrolysis element needing 74 screws, the whole plant contains a total of almost 12,000 screws. Thanks to this new service, these can be reused after they have been processed, significantly reducing the overall costs.

Helping to cut energy consumption

XERVON IPS’ membrane replacement services are in high demand. Replacing the membranes not only gives the customers peace of mind that their plants will continue to function smoothly. It also enables them to upgrade their systems as the old membranes can be replaced with the new generation of membrane that delivers a higher yield without having to increase energy input. The maintenance and installation work, therefore, not only makes sure the plants continue to deliver a top performance, it also helps reduce energy consumption.

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