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Heating 65,900 m² with process waste heat

The nature network® has been using the waste heat produced during the extraction process to heat the offices and production halls at the Vestenbergsgreuth facility since 1980. The most recent addition to this complex is a new building that was connected up to the internal district heating network in the autumn of 2008. The CO2-neutral heating system is just one of many projects with which the nature network® resolutely implements its holistic sustainable corporate philosophy.

"We installed the first heat exchanger at Vestenbergsgreuth almost 30 years ago," Franz Ehrhardt, Head of Engineering at the Vestenbergsgreuth facility, remembers. In the meantime, the nature network® saves 475,000 litres of fuel oil every year thanks to the use of process waste heat. "This represents a cost saving of 285,000 euros per year based on the current prices fuel oil prices. And the CO2 emissions have been reduced by almost 1400 metric tons," he goes on to say. "The utilisation of process waste heat is an excellent example of how sustainable courses of action can pay off in financial terms as well." Three heat exchangers have now been installed by the nature network® in order to heat the offices, warehouses and productions halls in Vestenbergsgreuth, which add up to a total area of 65,900 m².

How does a heat exchanger work?

"The principle of process waste heat utilisation is actually quite simple," Franz Ehrhardt explains. "The waste heat produced during the extraction of our teas and herbs is not simply discharged via the cooling towers. We use this waste heat to heat our offices and production buildings, and produce hot water, instead. The principle is as follows: when extracts are being concentrated in multi-stage evaporators at the Plantextrakt facility, the waste heat produced during this process is transferred to our internal district heating system via so-called heat exchangers, where the temperature can reach levels in excess of 60 °C."

"We use several water circuits, of course," the Head of Engineering continues. "The product and heating circuits are strictly isolated from one another so there is no risk of them being mixed." Underfloor heating systems, ventilation systems and radiators are used to heat the buildings, with blowers in the production halls. "Operating in three-shift mode, the extraction plants often run at the weekend as well, which means that we hardly need any primary energy to meet our heating requirements or for our hot water," Franz Ehrhardt explains.

Holistic Corporate Responsibility as a way of life

The utilisation of process waste heat is just one of very many projects with which the nature network® becomes actively involved for the benefit of the environment and the people of this world. In doing so, the Group always pursues a holistic approach. This means that, within the nature network®, Holistic Corporate Responsibility also includes more intensive support for controlled integrated cultivation within the framework of purchasing raw materials, for example, and a commitment to strict environmental protection directives. At the same time, the network assumes responsibility for its employees and business partners, and is involved in various social projects at regional and national level.