Sustainable solutions for granulating various chemical melts

04.07.2022 IPCO, the process systems manufacturer from Fellbach, Germany, installed its first Rotoform line more than 40 years ago and, while the company’s flagship granulation technology continues to evolve, the same original principle underpins a solidification solution that has gone on to sell more than 2500 units.

Pastilles produced by Rotoform system.
© Photo: IPCO
Pastilles produced by Rotoform system.

Chemical melt is delivered to the Rotoform unit and deposited onto a continuously running steel belt in drop form. Heat is transferred via the steel belt to cooling water sprayed against the underside of the belt, resulting in controlled solidification and the production of free flowing, uniform pastilles, an ideal form for subsequent storage, transportation, dosing and mixing.

11 different models

Today’s Rotoform systems are available in 11 different models, each designed to meet the process requirements of a specific group of chemical melts, while also offering a number of customer benefits in terms of sustainability.

At the heart of the range is the Rotoform 4G (Fourth Generation). First introduced in 2013, this model is used for solidification of low and high viscous melts. Other members of the 4G family have been developed for handling abrasive and sedimenting materials (e.g. catalysts and suspensions), melts requiring a high feed temperature (e.g. bitumen, resins), and the pastillation of subcooling melts (e.g. photo chemicals). Easy cleaning and stainless steel construction also enables the high standards of hygiene necessary for applications that require GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) specifications.

Other recent innovations include the availability of optional remote diagnostics, a system that allows customers to grant temporary access to live data so IPCO’s technicians can diagnose and resolve system quickly and cost efficiently, saving time and travel.

Clean, dust-free and energy efficient

The process itself is clean, dust-free and energy efficient, and its indirect cooling method eliminates any risk of cross contamination between product and cooling media, so there is no waste water. This focus on reducing environmental impact is reflected in IPCO’s global sustainability agenda which sets clear targets to be achieved by 2030, including a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 10% reduction in energy consumption. Other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been defined in areas such as material consumption, waste reduction, safety, diversity and gender equality.

Continuous casting for production of membranes, separators, ceramic tapes and optical films

IPCO will use ACHEMA 2022 (22-26 August in Frankfurt, Germany) to showcase the production and quality benefits of its steel-belt based continuous casting units and Venturi drying systems.

The IPCO film casting process uses a steel belt to transport a layer of liquid product through a series of carefully controlled sections. This involves heat and mass transfer in the evaporation process or a controlled phase separation process in a precipitation section.

Once these processes have been completed, the solid formed or transformed product is removed from the belt. At this stage the product will be either in final or intermediate form; the latter requiring further processing such as post drying, leaching or stretching.

Key benefits include ultra-efficient continuous production and the ability to cast very thin films to fine tolerances or producing microporous membranes of a quality unattainable by any other method.

Pilot plant for system assessment and product development

A film casting line with Venturi dryer module and a conventional impingement dryer section is available for customer trials at IPCO’s Productivity Center in Fellbach, Germany.

The unit, which also features a winding and unwinding unit, is capable of handling water or solvent-based casting solutions and enables casting in widths up to 500 mm.