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Walsroder Casings GmbH, a company of the American Viskase Companies, produces high-quality artificial casings for the meat processing industry and butchers.
The company uses different vegetable pulps from overseas to produce sausage casings, which are processed into a composite material. The backing paper, which is also made of pure cellulose, remains highly tear-resistant even at higher moisture levels and in thicknesses of 15 -25 g/m² - cellulose fibres are considered the ideal material for sustainable sausage production.
In one step, parts of the vegetable pulp are liquefied and then diffuse or penetrate the carrier material. This creates the adhesive for the seam and the outer coating.
A corresponding amount of steam is required to heat the process water, which has an initial temperature of 25° C in summer and 5° C in winter and must be brought to 65 °C / 70° C process temperature. The process steam or the high temperatures are mainly used to remove acids, gases and salts from the natural fibre material.
Until 2018, Walsroder Casings GmbH had purchased the necessary steam from the local industrial boiler house to ensure the pulp processing process. Due to highly expensive purchase conditions and a lack of willingness to negotiate on the part of the subsequent power plant operator, the company decided to produce process steam on its own in the future.
For this purpose, the sausage casing manufacturer installed three steam generators from Clayton Germany in the production plant two years ago. Compared to shell boilers, steam generators are ideal for providing specific quantities of steam, as they are ready for operation spontaneously within 5 minutes of a cold start. Shell boilers, on the other hand, have to be kept permanently at temperature, which has a comparatively negative effect on their energy balance.
To bridge the conversion, Clayton Germany had supplied the producer with a mobile container for almost half a year to maintain the steam supply in the meantime.
Of the three new steam generators, one has been operating in summer and two in winter since the beginning of 2019. After a detailed analysis of the time of day and the seasons, it was found that the dependence on the outside temperature is of decisive importance. In summer, Walsroder Casings GmbH usually requires a maximum of half a tonne of steam per hour, which led to the design of a steam generator of up to 0.7 t/h.
What is enough for the summer is by no means enough for the winter: For higher loads, two more Clayton steam generators are available here, each with a capacity of 2 tonnes of steam. All the new units operate in master-slave mode and priority switching, provided that the required steam output rises to 4.5 tonnes per hour.
"Due to the intelligent control system, we are able to determine at any time at the push of a button which of the three boilers should work in master mode. In summer it is the small one, in winter possibly one of the larger ones," Andreas Willers, technical operations manager at Walsroder Casings GmbH, comments. "Depending on the acceptance, the control system reacts pressure-dependently and automatically switches on the required steam generators." The company relies on natural gas as main fuel.
Clayton also supplied chemical tanks, a water softening and a degassing system, which was installed on the flat roof of the production plant. "The new plant has not only proven itself, but has also paid for itself. The return on investment is already after 3-4 years - i.e. already in the course of 2022. All forecasts regarding efficiency and profitability are on target. The concept of flexible steam generation has worked out for us with this plant".
Although the new steam generators are officially allowed to run for 72 hours without supervision, there is one inspection run per shift. Every six months, the plant is regularly inspected and serviced by the manufacturer.