The Pörner Group, a globally acting technology and plant engineering provider, enters into a partnership with Phichit Bio Power Co, Ltd, Thailand, and Evonik Industries AG, Germany, one of the world's leading specialty chemicals companies, to support the silicate processing industry in decarbonizing its products such as silica, detergents, cosmetics, building products, catalysts and zeolites.
For this purpose, the companies signed an agreement for the construction of the first industrial Pörner bio-silicate plant located in the center of the rice-growing region of Phichit in Thailand on Sept. 27, 2022. Banjong Tangjitwattanakul, President Phichit Bio Power Co., Ltd, Bernhard Schaefer, Senior Vice President Rubber Silica Evonik, Gerhard Bacher, CEO Pörner Germany, and high-ranking representatives of the industry participated in the ceremony in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.
Pörner licenses and supplies "turn key”
As the general plant designer, Pörner provides the process, basic and detail engineering and supply the equipment "turnkey" including construction and installation as well as commissioning, which is scheduled for the end of 2024. The Bio-Silicate produced exclusively for Evonik in Thailand will be further processed into high-quality precipitated ULTRASIL® silica to support the global tire industry in its drive for CO2 neutrality.
Based on the patented Pörner bio-silicate process, the plant will use renewable raw material, namely rice hulls as a natural waste product of the rice production. After combusting the hulls in biomass power plants, the ash is then processed into a valuable industrial feedstock, the silicates. The patented plant configuration ensures a very high purity of the product, especially in terms of a minimum content of impurities with e.g. metals.
Trendsetting tire production
The Pörner bio-silicate process has the potential to fundamentally change the silicate world. The sustainable product, which is in increasing demand around the globe, has a wide range of applications, in particular for the production of tires with reduced rolling resistance, also known as “Green Tires”. Evonik, one of the world's leading specialty chemicals companies, intends to supply this market with sustainable silica made from bio-silicate now.
Pörner Group’s pioneering process to generate the silicate from rice hull ash uses biomass energy that enables Evonik to deliver a CO2 footprint reduction of up to 30 % compared to its standard silica.
Silica is the key-ingredient for fuel-efficient tires, reducing the fuel consumption by up to 8% compared to conventional passenger car tires. With the sustainable ULTRASIL® silica a next step will be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the silica significantly. The silicate, which is the essential raw material to produce the tire silica will be biobased and made with green energy. The demand for sustainable raw materials in tires is increasing significantly. However, until now only very small quantities of biobased silica are available in the market, which do not meet the rising global demand. The new collaboration addresses this shortage and the industry's ambition to increase the use of renewable raw materials.
The Pörner Bio-Silicate Technology
"Through research and development over several years in our demonstration plant in Freiberg, Germany, we were successful in proving the superior quality of the bio-silicates in a prequalification process with Evonik." Gerhard Bacher, CEO of Pörner Germany, explains. "Our patented process intelligently uses the natural properties of the rice plant and produces high-quality sodium silicates exclusively with energy sources from biomass."
During the controlled combustion of the rice husks in modern biomass power plants, CO2-neutral high-quality rice hull ash is obtained in addition to electrical and thermal energy. This rice hull ash mostly contains more than 80 % silicon dioxide (SiO2), from which high-quality sodium and potassium silicates are obtained by the Pörner bio-silicate process.
Economic and ecological value chain
"The environmental benefits of producing silicate from rice hull ash are obvious. But equally important are the benefits the collaboration brings to our project stakeholders in the region. For example, by creating new jobs for local communities around the plant or for farmers who can connect to our power generation grid," emphasizes Banjong Tangjitwattanakul, president of Phichit Bio Power Co., Ltd.
"Within this co-operation, it is now possible to produce bio-silicates on an industrial scale, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of our process stage by up to 70 % compared to the conventional process. After years of research and development of our own environmentally-friendly and sustainable process, we are now starting to focus all our efforts on pushing forward the global decarbonization of the silicate-processing industry," adds Andreas Pörner, Managing Partner of the Pörner Group.
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