Versatility of aquatherm blue puts a charge into VARTA’s expansion – Everyone knows their products and uses them almost daily: VARTA AG is Germany‘s most traditional battery company.
With around 4000 employees and representatives in more than 75 countries, it is also one of the largest manufacturers of batteries in the world. When expanding its production facilities in Ellwangen (headquarters) in Baden-Württemberg and in Nördlingen, some 40 kilometres away, the company was looking for a piping system that could be used for refrigeration piping as well as for compressed air and vacuum lines and that could be installed safely and quickly. The solution was offered by aquatherm GmbH.
In various building complexes a total of about 5000 metres of the fIbre-reinforced pipe system aquatherm blue, in dimensions from 32 to 450 mm, were used.
“With aquatherm we have found a partner we can rely on in all areas of piping,” explains Markus Egetenmeier, Head of Facility Services at VARTA. “The material is excellently suited for the refrigeration, vacuum and compressed air lines and the choice of dimensions up to 500 mm is ideal for us.”
VARTA has completely converted its refrigeration piping network at the Ellwangen production site, headquarters of VARTA Microbattery GmbH, innovation leader in the field of micro batteries, to the system from Attendorn in South Westphalia and replaced old steel pipes. A big advantage of the aquatherm system is resistance to incrustation and corrosion: even in case of strong oxygen enrichment or chemical additives in the cooling water corrosion has no chance with aquatherm blue. This is made possible by the material polypropylene.
“With our old system made of steel we had to struggle with incrustation, which resulted in increased energy consumption and thus additional costs”, says Egeten-meier. “The material polypropylene offered the perfect solution for this”.
Now the production machines, which are cooled by refrigeration systems –– consisting of several free coolers with capacities from 180 KW to 300 KW –– can reliably do their job.
Low weight makes for easier assembly under hall roof
In addition to the quality of the material, the safety aspect was particularly important to VARTA.
“Since it is a fully welded system, it is absolutely leak-proof,”
explains Thomas Müller, Managing Director of Dürr und Feil GmbH, who were commissioned for the installation. In detail this means that aquatherm pipes and fittings are connected by heat fusion. The plastic fuses to a homogeneous, material-closed unit and a permanently tight connection.
“In addition, the low weight compared to metallic pipe systems made our work much easier,” says Müller. “Even under the hall roofs with great heights, the pipe network installation succeeded without any problems,” the expert says.
Since no flying sparks are produced during plastic fusion, production did not have to be interrupted during installation. Among other things, a large central distributor with a length of 3.75 metres was prefabricated for cooling distribution in the aquatherm factory in Attendorn according to exact preliminary planning and customer requirements.
“Due to the prefabricated manifolds and special components we saved a lot of time, which helped us in the ongoing production,”
says Egetenmeier. The distributor was delivered to the construction site ready for installation and only needed to be connected there.
Due to the positive experience, VARTA decided to use the system in other areas as well. In the meantime, not only the refrigeration network, but also vacuum and compressed air lines were executed with aquatherm blue. At the production site Nördlingen, headquarters of VARTA Storage GmbH, one of the leading manufacturers of energy storage solutions for private households and large storage applications, the company has renovated various production facilities and used aquatherm blue in dimensions up to 160 mm for compressed air and vacuum. Compressed air is an important component in industrial production. Decisive for trouble-free and effective use as a source of energy is not only the quality of the compressed air, which can be affected by impurities such as dust, oil or moisture, but also the quality of the pipe system with which the air is directed to where it is needed. The vacuum range below 300 millibar, i.e. at a pressure well below atmospheric pressure, demands special properties from the piping system used.
“It was important to us here that the -piping system used is highly pressure-resistant and dimensionally stable,” explains -Egetenmeier.
The secure connection of the pipes prevents air escaping at the critical connection points, as can happen with mechanical connections. This keeps energy requirements and operating costs low. In addition to the already completed installation work, VARTA is planning further projects with aquatherm products.
New push-fit fittings used in manufacturing facility
VARTA is also relying on piping “Made in Germany” for its latest construction project: a new building at the Nördlingen site that will be used for the manufacture of next-generation lithium-ion cells. The building’s production area encompasses more than 15,000 square metres and features highly automated production lines. About 5000 metres of aquatherm blue in dimensions between 125 and 450 mm were used for the cooling and compressed air pipes. The new aquatherm push-fit fitting was installed here, which offers fast installation and a high level of safety. Thanks to the simple plug-in system, pipe systems made of aquatherm blue can be connected up to 40% faster than with the welding method. Even installations under the ceiling and in large dimensions – at VARTA push-fit fittings up to 355 mm were installed – are possible. After the installation of aquatherm push-fit fittings, the pipe system can be loaded with full pressure immediately.