BHS Sonthofen: Distinguished for its environmentally friendly and efficient recycling of refrigerators

Prizewinners at the GreenTec Awards 2015: Thermally catalytic oxidation eliminates 99.9 percent of all hazardous substances

BHS Sonthofen: Distinguished for its environmentally friendly and efficient recycling of refrigerators

The winner: Dennis Kemmann, Managing Director of BHS-Sonthofen and Peter Althaus, Sülzle Kopf Anlag.

BHS-Sonthofen and Sülzle Kopf Anlagenbau GmbH were awarded 2nd prize for their “IC-Process” in the “Recycling & Resources” category at the GreenTec Awards 2015. The process facilitates recycling of shredded solids and completely converts the coolants and fuels contained in refrigerators into harmless substances such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and salt solutions.

Dennis Kemmann, Managing Director of BHS-Sonthofen GmbH, and Peter Althaus, General Sales Manager of Sülzle Kopf Anlagenbau GmbH, were honored with this prize at the awards ceremony in the Berlin Tempodrom on May 29, 2015, to which 1000 representatives from business, science, politics, culture and media had been invited.

The IC process took 2nd place among 250 international submissions under the slogan “The next generation of environmentally friendly refrigerator recycling” in the “Recycling and Resources” category. Marco Voigt, the initiator of the GreenTec Awards, commented on the 8th year of the competition, saying: “This was the greatest and most ambitious awards presentation that we have ever hosted. We are well on our way to becoming the world’s most prestigious environmental prize.”

Dennis Kemmann recognizes not only benefits for the environment, but also the process’s economic attractiveness: “The jury has publicly honored our success in handling a problem which had remained unsolved for a very long time: The IC process not only drastically reduces the emission of pollutants in refrigerator recycling, it also operates efficiently. The low energy consumption also allows us to reduce emissions and protect valuable resources.” Moreover, pentane, which is being used more and more in modern refrigerators, has an enormous energy content and thus supports the treatment of the gases all the way up to thermally self-sufficient operation.

The IC process, jointly developed by BHS-Sonthofen and Sülzle Kopf Anlagenbau, is a complete solution for the efficient recycling of refrigerators. It combines mechanical crushing of the devices with thermal catalytic oxidation of the coolants and propellants contained in the refrigerators with CFCs and hydrocarbons. The product name “IC” stands for the words “Impact” (for mechanical crushing by impact effects) and “Catalyst” (for catalytic oxidation).

The end products of the process are just the shredded solids, carbon dioxide, and a salt solution. Since the new process makes several of the steps required for other processes unnecessary, it also significantly reduces processing costs.

The very first plant for this type of gas treatment on an industrial scale is currently under construction. The project is being funded by the German Federal Environment Ministry. The system is expected to achieve a reduction in hazardous materials of around 99.9 percent. Since the new process operates at much lower temperatures than other comparable processes (at 530 C instead of 1200 C), its lower energy requirement decreases annual CO2 emissions by around 1400 tons.

The technology in detail: The IC process

The refrigerators are recycled in three stages: manual initial dismantling, mechanical crushing with a BHS Rotorshredder and a thermally catalytic stage for the gas treatment. The Rotorshredder also processes large refrigerator/freezer combinations in a single step – pre-shredding is not required. The crushed solids are automatically separated by air sifters and magnetic and cyclone separators into ferromagnetic and non-ferromagnetic components, plastics and polyurethane foam.

The coolants and fuels recovered in the two initial stages are treated in the third, thermal stage, for the processing the gases and completely converted into harmless substances such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and salt solutions. Even the air contained in the crushing chamber of the rotor shredder also undergoes gas treatment and is purified and returned to the environment. In this way the process captures all of the gaseous components contained in the refrigerators.

About BHS-Sonthofen

BHS-Sonthofen is an owner-operated group of companies in the machinery and plant engineering sector, based in Sonthofen, Germany. The company offers technical solutions for mechanical process engineering with a focus on mixing, crushing, recycling, and filtration. With more than 350 employees and several subsidiaries, BHS-Sonthofen has a global presence.

The Recycling Technology division offers a wide range of machines and systems for the recycling industry. The product spectrum covers the processing of brittle waste materials such as electronic scrap, slag, shredder residual fractions etc., as well as elastic materials such as tires, cables, and refuse-derived fuels. In agriculture, biogrinders are used to shred substrates for the production of biogas.

For more information, see:

BHS-Sonthofen GmbH
Roland Schmid
An der Eisenschmelze 47
D-87527 Sonthofen, Germany
+49 8321 6099-231

Regina Reinhardt
Süsterfeldstrasse 83
52072 Aachen, Germany