Latest Case Studies & White Papers

Fender Fortified with Polyurethane Resin on US’ First Zero Emissions Tugboat

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Figure 1. US’ first zero emissions, all-electric tugboat, the eWolf

In order to keep the planet on track for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, at COP28, negotiators from 200 Parties agreed on the science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that: ‘[…] limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F) requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030.’

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Figure 2. Image: IREANA

Prior to COP28, in July 2023, the UN agency, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), considerably vamped up its strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ocean freight. The Organisation’s revised targets aim to reduce carbon emissions from international shipping by 40% by 2030, and to achieve net zero by 2050, based on 2008 levels.

The Maritime Industry’s ‘Most Important Mitigation Measure’

One of the fundamental ways in which this sector can achieve this is through ‘scalable zero emission fuels’. According to a 2023 Report from one of the world-leading authorities on climate science, Climate Action Tracker: ‘To achieve full decarbonisation, the shipping sector will need to adopt alternative fuels, otherwise known as scalable zero emission fuels, to power vessels.’ The Report goes on to describe how: ‘This is the most important mitigation measure.’ Scalable zero emission fuels typically refer to hydrogen, ammonia, e-methanol and electric battery.

Considering the seismic reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions required by the maritime industry by 2030, advances in technology, such as the US’ first zero emissions, all-electric tugboat, the eWolf, is a huge step forwards in terms of decarbonising this sector.

The US’ First Zero Emissions, All-Electric Tugboat

Launched in 2023, the 25 metre (82 ft) eWolf is leading the way in terms of mitigating the

climate impact of the maritime sector. Over the first 10 years of its use, the operation of the new ‘eTug' will reduce 178 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 2.5 tons of diesel particulate matter, and 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), versus a conventional tugboat.

The eWolf is capable of speeds of up to 12 knots, and will be powered by a 6.2 megawatt-hour main propulsion battery and two electric motors. The electricity comes from a charging station that is part of a microgrid facility, equipped with two energy storage containers. Battery modules in each container have a storage capacity of nearly 1.5 megawatt-hours.

Bonding Solution Required for Front Fender

The front fender for the eWolf needed to be bonded together using a strong adhesive that would withstand pushing and pulling forces during the process of adhering the fender to the eTug. Having established confidence in Belzona technology from using their polymeric systems in previous applications, the Customer chose Belzona once again for the application.

System Specification: Elastomeric Primer and Polyurethane Resin

Following an inspection by Micah Heath, Technical Consultant at Belzona Distributorship, Belzona Alabama Belzona Alabama, the fast curing, one-part elastomeric primer, Belzona 2911 (Elastomer QD Conditioner), was specified. This conditioner is optimised for adhesion to a variety of substrates including rubber, as required for this particular application. For the bonding, the polyurethane resin, Belzona 2211, was specified. This flexible rubber repair material is optimised for applications where high build, durability and elasticity are required.

Application Procedure

Commenting on the application procedure, Micah said: “Once the required surface preparation was completed using grinding wheels and MBX Bristle Blaster, the conditioner, Belzona 2911 (Elastomer QD Conditioner), was applied. As soon as the conditioner was touch dry, Belzona 2211 was used to attach the plugs into the fender, and then attach the 3-part fender together. The application team used a manual cable puller to apply the necessary pressure to ensure the various surfaces were sufficiently pressed together. Once completed, the application was left for 36 hours to cure, achieving an excellent mechanical bond.”

Figure 3. Fender plugs prior to attachment

 Figure 3. Fender plugs prior to attachment

 

Figure 4. Polyurethane resin, Belzona 2211, applied to prepared surface

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Figure 5. Come-alongs used to hold the sections together during curing process

Policy is Key Driver in Roll-Out of Zero Emissions Technology

Over the past few years, numerous policies have been launched worldwide which have provided huge cash injections for technologies and industries that support the net zero by 2050 pathway. One of the world-leading policies is the US’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which includes $369 billion (US dollars) of investment.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, ‘[…] thanks to the passage of the IRA in the United States, companies are announcing hundreds of clean energy manufacturing facilities, turbocharging battery and electric vehicle production and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.’ A continued investment will continue to ‘[turbocharge]’ advancements in technologies such as the eWolf. In turn, technology like this will help the sector to achieve its decarbonisation targets.

Decarbonising the Marine Sector with Polymeric Technology

In addition to pioneering technology like the eTug, polymeric systems also play a key role in the decarbonisation of this sector. Belzona’s circular economic business model is grounded in the practice of repairing and improving damaged assets, rather than decommissioning and replacing them. Not only does this allow the asset owner to make considerable financial savings, but it also mitigates the carbon footprint incurred during the process of replacing damaged assets. In turn, this supports a net zero by 2050 pathway, in line with the Paris Agreement. Maritime Approvals In addition, Belzona systems are manufactured according to the ISO 9001 quality management systems and are approved by classification societies from all around the world including: Lloyd's Register, American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, RINA Services, DNV, China Classification Society and the Korean Register of Shipping.

For more information, please visit: www.Belzona.com

Case study: Embracing the new era of connected safety

When your business involves sending hundreds of workers out to disconnected sites where they could be exposed to dangerous gases, safety should be a top priority. But how can real-time insights and actionable data help enable you to offer your workforce enhanced protection? This was the challenge facing Cappagh Browne Utilities Limited, a company specialising in repairing and maintaining wastewater networks across the southeast of England. Learn more about their experience.

 

 
     
     
   
     
     
 

As managing director of Cappagh Browne, Jeff Birtwhistle plays a key role in helping to keep the sewers of south-east England flowing. With over 30 years’ experience in heavy civil construction, nuclear energy, and utilities, he’s always looking for innovative solutions to help the company improve the service it offers customers – and protect its workforce. So when we introduced our latest generation connected gas connector, the ALTAIR io™ 4 Connected Gas Detector, Jeff was keen for Cappagh Browne to be able to reap the benefits.

“When it comes to innovation and new technology, MSA Safety is one of our key and invaluable partners,” he says.

 

The gas detector that is redefining safety management

Cappagh Browne was already using a previous generation connected gas detector from MSA Safety that provided certain data for remote monitoring to help protect workers and respond to emergencies.  After experiencing those benefits, he wanted to enhance them even further with real-time data. The ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector does this, helping to give Cappagh Browne the chance to leverage new MSA Safety technology, improve overall business efficiency and response times, and significantly improve safety for workers.

 

Offering immediate, on-site connectivity

The power of the  ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector lies in its combination of built-in cutting-edge, CAT-M LTE cellular connectivity and integration with the MSA Grid. Part of MSA Safety’s Connected Work Platform, the ALTAIR io4 Connected Gas Detector can be deployed in seconds, right out of the box. What’s more, no IT is required for updates because they are delivered securely from our cloud to your fleet. When the device is in its dock, it knows when it needs a bump test or calibration to be compliant and immediately starts to run the relevant test.

And with industry-leading XCELL® sensors it can stand up to tough use in challenging conditions, resistance to extreme temperatures, the ability to withstand a 25-foot drop and a dust and waterproof IP68 rating.

 

Real-time insights

Matt Reid, Head of Fleet for Cappagh Browne, says they are already experiencing the benefits of upgrading to the ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector. “We have over 350 employees working across various remote sites in potentially hazardous environments. So real-time safety monitoring is important,” he explains. “Now, with the ALTAIR io 4, we’re able to use real-time data to establish who to use on a particular job because we can see what exposure they’ve had over the last week.”

 

“We can send one person out to a job and then, if they need help, we can send another person out with an ID tag to ‘fob on’ to the same device. We can then track both people safely within the seven-day period to make sure they don’t exceed their exposure limit.”

 

Keeping workers safe throughout the day

Managing Director Jeff Birtwhistle adds that it’s the ability to get immediate feedback when a worker’s exposure limit to dangerous gases has been reached that is taking the company’s safety management to new levels. “Being able to intervene on a worker’s behalf and pull them out of a job to protect them is fantastic. It means we can keep our most valuable asset –our people – safe,” he says.

 

Improving compliance

The real-time data and actionable insights offered by the ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector are also helping to simplify regulatory compliance for Cappagh Browne and enabling supervisors to identify behaviors that don’t meet safety standards, which can help make workers more accountable.

 

Since introducing the solution, the company has experienced zero safety alarms. However, as Matt Reid explains, a worker was able to use the inbuilt alarm to call for help in an unusual situation.

 

“We had an instance where a guy became physically locked out of his vehicle and didn’t have his phone on him. He pushed the alarm button to call for help and we were able to get a second set of keys over to him to unlock the vehicle and get him on the road again.”

 

The partnership with MSA Safety continues

Both Jeff and Matt know that at some point in the future they will inevitably be looking for new safety enhancements that they cannot envisage right now. But they are confident that when that time comes, MSA Safety will be there, just as it has been for real-time gas detection monitoring. For now, they are enjoying the enhanced safety that the ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector offers their workforce.

 

Fleet manager Matt Reid sums up the benefits. “Using ALTAIR io 4 means we can send our employees home safely to their families every night and that Cappagh Browne can see them again every morning when they turn up for another day’s work.”

Keen to see what this technology can do for safety management at your business too? Watch our case study video and find out more about how the ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector is redefining safety.

 

Watch the video to find out more about Cappa Browne's experience using MSA Safety's ALTAIR io 4 Connected Gas Detector.

Cutting Costs and Carbon Footprints with Polymeric Technology

For over 72 years, Belzona polymeric technology has helped numerous asset owners across a myriad of industries to not only make seismic financial savings, but this technology has also enabled them to considerably mitigate their carbon footprints as well. This latter benefit is particularly paramount when considering the drive towards a net-zero by 2050 future for the planet, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.


At the COP28 Summit, negotiators from nearly 200 Parties came together in Dubai with a decision on the world’s first Global Stocktake. The Stocktake recognises the science that indicates global greenhouse gas emissions need to ‘be cut by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).’

However, the Stocktake notes that Parties are off track when it comes to meeting their Paris Agreement goals. As such, the Stocktake has called on Parties to take actions towards achieving, on a global scale, a ‘tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030.’

The Belzona Solution: a Circular Economic Business Model

Amongst the ever-growing arsenal of carbon mitigation technologies and initiatives, industrial coatings and repair composites can help numerous industries to significantly reduce their carbon footprints, in line with Paris Agreement targets.

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Figure 1. Established in 1952, Belzona is a global leader in polymeric technology

With a comprehensive range of polymeric systems such as epoxy repair composites, high-temperature coatings, liquid waterproof membranes, flexible roof coatings and pipe wraps, amongst others, these systems have been proven to not only repair and protect damaged assets across many different industries, but to also intrinsically improve them for the long term as well.

The environmental implications of this circular economic business model are astronomical. By bypassing the need to replace damaged assets and instead actively improving them, industries can make great strides in minimising their environmental impact.

In addition, by investing in these systems, this mitigates the fees that can accumulate in the process of asset replacement. These fees include: the cost of the asset being replaced, the labor required during the removal, disposal and installation process and also the downtime that can be incurred during this procedure. 

For these reasons, an increase in investment into these technologies would help many different industries in the process of ratchetting up their 2030 emissions reduction plans, in line with the net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario, in a way that is also financially advantageous.

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Figure 2. Corroded and eroded pump repaired and protected with Belzona 1111 (Super Metal) and Belzona 5821

Conventional Protective Coatings Won’t Survive

At the core of Belzona technology is polymer chemistry. In the Company’s laboratories located in Harrogate, UK and Miami, US, the Company designs, formulates, and manufactures a comprehensive range of polymeric solutions. These systems enable their industrial customers to repair and protect assets that would otherwise be damaged by aggressive service conditions.

For example, slurries and strong chemicals cause abrasion and corrosion as they pass down pipes and through production equipment. Factors such as these as well as elevated temperatures mean that conventional protective coatings won’t survive. As such, companies must turn to a high-performance polymer technology to protect their assets to an appropriate standard.

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Figure 3. Pipes in Oil Refinery coated with Belzona 1593


The Evolution of Belzona


The Company was established in 1952. The Founder, Jorgan Svendsen, was fascinated with the mechanisms of corrosion, and how to repair, protect and improve assets against corrosion damage. Initially utilising a flame-spray method to protect fire extinguishers against corrosion, the Business moved away from hot work applications and developed a pioneering cold-applied, zinc-rich corrosion protection technology. This technology could be applied to a variety of steel structures. It worked by creating a polymer-zinc barrier that would resist aggressive corrosion and also protect the integrity of the steel beneath it.

Following on from this, Belzona then developed a range of polymer coatings and repair pastes. The original being Belzona 1111 (Super Metal), which has since been widely replicated over the years. This system was specifically designed for the repair and rebuilding of assets, before then coating and protecting them against any future damage. Applied onto damaged or worn surfaces in thick layers, these Belzona 1000 Series metallic pastes allow the substrate to be reshaped and reformed back to its original profile. The paste then sets, almost like the steel itself, and gives the original asset a new lease of life.

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Figure 4. Damaged ship caisson repaired and protected with Belzona 1111 (Super Metal)Belzona 1331 and Belzona 5811 (Immersion Grade)

Since then, Belzona has gone on to develop a range of high temperature immersion linings. These are widely used in the oil and gas industry on structures that are subjected to water, steam, oil, sand, and aggressive chemicals throughout their processing life. Belzona has also developed composite repair systems made from densely woven structural fabrics made from glass fiber or carbon fiber, that can be used to return strength and fortify compromised pipes or other structures.


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Figure 5. Desulfurisation unit rebuilt with Belzona 1511 (Super HT-Metal) and protected with high-temperature lining, Belzona 1593

The Company has found the composite repair method to be a rapidly growing market. For that niche, Belzona developed a brand called Belzona SuperWrap, now known as Belzona SuperWrap II. This system is comprised of a fluid-grade resin system and a bespoke hybrid reinforcement sheet, based on fibre glass and carbon fibre. The major benefit of the Belzona SuperWrap II system is its ability to re-instate/restore strength to the original substrate.

When a steel pipe is damaged or corroded, through chemical attack for example, then it will ultimately lose strength and can even leak. This can mean that entire plants or facilities will be shut down for lengthy periods of time. This is clearly a major issue as it could result in millions of dollars being lost every day. In addition, this system can be applied as a composite patch, pad or plate, bringing increased rigidity, corrosion resistance and chemical resistance to the asset.


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Figure 6. Pipe strength restored using Belzona SuperWrap II

Design, Develop, Manufacture

Belzona’s Chemists are involved at all stages, through design, development and manufacture. The Chemists work at the metaphorical drawing board, all the way through to supervising the first batch of a new polymer solution being made. As part of the development and manufacturing process, the Company focuses on sourcing materials that are commercially available, can provide the requisite performance, are of the highest quality, and which are as safe and sustainable as possible. By working with different chemical manufacturers, who create the building blocks of these solutions, the Chemists are able to apply their scientific knowledge and expertise, creating an easily appliable, safe, high-performance polymer product.

Testing is another key step in the development process. Belzona has fully equipped testing laboratories at their UK and US sites. These facilities allow the Company to study and characterise the performance of its products, and thereby optimise the formulations. Every solution undergoes an extensive programme of testing, the majority of which is carried out in-house. The testing is defined by the intended end-use for the product; for example, weathering testing for an exterior anti-corrosion coating or abrasion resistance testing for a slurry pump lining. It is Belzona’s investment in this testing capability which sets the Company apart from most competitors.

While the UK and US serve as the two core bases for Belzona’s global operations, the Company also has a global Network of 159 Distributors in over 120 countries. It also has corporate presences in the form of training and support centers in Thailand, Canada and China. Increasingly, Belzona is turning its attention to expanding its portfolio of sustainable solutions.

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Figure 7. CEO, Barry Nisill, presenting Belzona solutions at Belzona’s Asia Pacific Office

Polymeric Solutions for a Sustainable Future

Repairing damaged assets instead of replacing them has always been fundamental to Belzona’s philosophy. This is encapsulated in the Company’s strapline ‘Polymeric Solutions for a Sustainable Future’. Originally, though, that philosophy was primarily driven by cost: it’s considerably cheaper to repair an asset than to buy a new one, so the asset owner can make significant financial savings.  

For example, over the course of several years, a Steel Fabricator in the UK’s East Coast managed to save millions of pounds by deploying polymeric repair and protection systems onto more than 2,000 metres of its gas pipeline. This included epoxy repair mortars and stainless-steel protective coatings.

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Figure 8. Steel Fabricator saved millions of pounds thanks to Belzona technology

To this day, this philosophy of repair instead of replace remains. However, the need for industries to reduce their environmental impacts is more pressing now than ever before. As such, Belzona polymeric repair materials and protective coatings have an important part to play in supporting this net-zero journey. They can help to reduce the carbon footprint across many different industries such as (amongst others):

Petrochemical, Oil and Gas:
Belzona has a wide range of epoxy-based metal repair composites and high temperature coatings and linings which have been used in the petrochemical and oil and gas industries since the late 1970s. These materials are specifically designed to provide outstanding erosion and corrosion protection, as well as chemical resistance for equipment operating offshore and onshore at various pressures and temperatures.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the petrochemical and oil and gas industries (amongst others): internal and external of process vessels, pipework, cold bonding, splash zones, storage tanks and secondary containment areas, carbon capture, decommissioning, fenders and hoses, heat exchangers, seawater filters and separator vessels.



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Figure 9. Flange protected against corrosion with flange encapsulation system, Belzona 3412

Marine:
Belzona's comprehensive range of cold-curing marine coatings and metal repair composites has been used by the marine industry for over 60 years. These products have been specifically designed to withstand harsh offshore conditions as well as provide exceptional resistance against erosion and corrosion.

Providing metal repair composites to shipyards around the world, long-term protection is proven by years of successful experience with ships and offshore structures. Manufactured according to the ISO 9001 quality management systems, Belzona materials are approved by classification societies from all around the world including: Lloyd's Register, American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, RINA Services, DNV, China Classification Society and the Korean Register of Shipping.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the marine industry (amongst others): rudders, shafts, engines, shimming and chocking applications, rubber components, at sea repairs, storage tanks, exhausts, turbo blowers, stern tubes, auxiliary diesel engines, alternators/generators, tank cleaning systems, oily water separators, steering gears, pumps, heat exchangers, pipework, deck winches, lifeboats and access ladders.

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Figure 10. Voith Schneider propulsion unit built up with Belzona 1311 (Ceramic R-Metal) before being overcoated with Belzona 1321 (Ceramic S-Metal)


Mining and Quarrying:
Belzona's wide range of polymeric metal and rubber repair composites and durable protective coatings and linings have been used in the mining and quarrying industry for decades. These materials are specifically designed to provide outstanding erosion, corrosion and abrasion protection, as well as chemical resistance, for equipment operating in highly aggressive environments.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the mining and quarrying industry: solids handling equipment, fluid and gas handling equipment, mechanical equipment, chocking and shimming applications and facilities maintenance.

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Figure 11. Expansion joint repair at Coal Mine using combination of Belzona systems

Steel:
From rolling mills to blast furnaces, critical equipment in the steel industry is susceptible to abrasion, erosion, corrosion and chemical attack. Belzona’s range of metal repair compositeserosion corrosion resistant coatings and durable linings have been engineered to meet the aggressive demands of this industry.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the steel industry (amongst others): fluid and gas handling equipment, solids handling equipment, storage tank and secondary containment areas, shimming of worn equipment and facilities maintenance.

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Figure 12. Tank and concrete saddles fortified with Belzona technology at Steel Production Site


Supporting Renewable Energy Industries  

Not only can Belzona technology help to mitigate the carbon footprint across multiple industries, but these polymeric systems can also safeguard valuable assets within the renewables sector. For example:

Wind:
For both onshore and offshore environments, Belzona solutions for the wind power sector can help to repair and protect assets from these problems, whilst simultaneously making wind farm maintenance procedures more efficient and less time-consuming.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the wind industry (amongst others): blade restoration and leading edge protection (LEP), nacelle and generating components, rebuild solutions for mechanical components, turbine base and tower, damaged concrete, corrosion resistant encapsulation systems, corrosion and erosion protection for splash zones, surface-tolerant solutions for transformer leaks.

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Figure 13. Emergency repair of leaking transformer at Wind Farm with Belzona 1212

Hydropower:
Within the hydropower industry, polymer technology can offer a plethora of benefits including resistance to cavitation, excellent resistance to erosion and corrosion and efficiency enhancement.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the hydropower industry (amongst others): Francis turbines, Kaplan turbines, wicket gates, inlet valves, switchgears and turbine casings, pipework, penstocks, dams/spillways and facilities maintenance.

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Figure 14. Corroded Francis turbine repaired with efficiency-enhancing coating, Belzona 1341 (Supermetalglide)

Biomass and Waste-to-Energy:
Belzona offers a wide range of epoxy-based repair composites and protective coatings to repair and protect biomass and waste-to-energy processing facilities and equipment from common problems occurring in the industry, including: abrasion, erosion, corrosion and chemical attack.

Belzona systems can be applied in the following areas within the biomass and waste-to-energy industry (amongst others): facilities maintenance, pipework, FGD units, chimneys and roofs.    

Range of Systems to Repair, Protect and Improve

For each of these industries and application areas, Belzona has designed high-performance solutions spanning across five product ranges:

Belzona 1000 Series - for the repair and protection of machinery and equipment.
Belzona 2000 Series - for abrasion resistant linings and the repair and protection of flexible components.
Belzona 3000 Series - waterproofing systems for the repair and protection of buildings and structures.
Belzona 4000 Series - for the repair and protection of concrete subject to abrasion, impact, and chemical attack.
Belzona 5000 Series - for protection from physical, chemical, or bacterial attack in a diverse range of environments.
Belzona 6000 Series - Zinc rich epoxy materials for corrosion protection to steelwork.
Belzona 7000 Series – for structural bonding, shimming and chocking.  



Sustainable Solutions

The focus on sustainability and conservation of the planet’s resources is informing much of Belzona’s future endeavors. For example, the Company has been supporting a UK-based Power Distribution Company and their customers whose assets are subject to SF6 leaks in their transformers. SF6 is described as the world’s worst greenhouse gas and is 23,500 times more potent than CO2.
 

In early 2022, Belzona created a tailor-made solution to stop leaks on a transformer owned by an electrical distribution operator. After several stages of prequalification, a trial repair was completed and has now been in service for several months. With Belzona’s support, the organisation is now achieving a 90-95% leak reduction rate, with an ambition to reach 100% in the near future.

The SF6 project reflects an increasingly important mission being adopted by Belzona: creating products that solve industrial problems in a safe and sustainable way.

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Figure 15. Belzona created a tailor-made solution to stop leaks on a transformer

Development of Products with High Levels of Renewable Carbon Content

Another important part of Belzona’s sustainability drive is its investigation into the efficacy of bio-based polymer solutions. One of the negative aspects of working with polymers is that the chemical building blocks used throughout the performance coatings sector are derived from oil - this means that an environmental impact is incurred.

However, Belzona has set out to address this challenge through its exploration and development of high-performance polymer solutions that use feed stocks derived from a renewable carbon source: plants. While bio-based chemicals have been available for low-performance solutions such as decorative paints for some time, the use of these types of chemicals has not previously been possible in the heavy industry market.

However, it is increasingly becoming apparent that chemical manufacturers are recognising the need for plant-derived polymers, in order to meet sustainability targets.

It is now possible to achieve very similar performance to oil-derived equivalents. Belzona is passionate about this ongoing change within the chemical industry. As a down-stream producer, the Company intends to work closely with manufacturers to encourage the adoption of more renewable-carbon solutions that don’t compromise on performance or quality.

Polymeric Systems: A Welcome Addition to the Arsenal of Carbon Mitigation Strategies

An increase in investment into industrial protective coatings and repair composites would help countries in the process of ratchetting up their 2030 emissions reduction plans, in order to achieve the net-zero emissions by 2050 target. Not only this, as discussed, these technologies are also instrumental in helping asset-owners across many different industries to make significant financial savings as well.

Indeed, Belzona recognises the critical role polymeric systems play in helping to support a more sustainable future for the planet in a way that is also financially advantageous. As such, they are committed to making ongoing investments into the development of polymeric systems that meet the ever-growing and changing demands of industries as they evolve towards a net-zero future.

About Belzona: Mission and Values

In April 2023, Belzona announced its new values – ‘Investment, Innovation, and Integrity’. These values are encapsulated in all five sectors of the Belzona philosophy - Corporate, Distributors, Consultants, Contractors, and Customers. These sectors work in harmony to provide the best products and services.

‘Investment’, the first of the new values, represents Belzona’s commitment to investing in its people, technology, and infrastructure. This includes investing in its employees’ training and development, as well as in the research and development of new and innovative products. Belzona’s focus on ‘Investment ensures that it stays ahead of the competition and continues to provide its customers with the best possible solutions.


Figure 16. Belzona invests in the ongoing training and development of its staff members

‘Innovation’ is the second value that Belzona has adopted. This value represents the Company’s commitment to continuous improvement and finding new and innovative solutions to its customers’ problems. For example, Belzona’s focus on ‘Innovation’ has led to the development of cutting-edge products, such as our range of high temperature linings.

The third and final value that Belzona has adopted is ‘integrity’. This value represents the Company’s commitment to honesty, transparency, and ethical behaviour. Belzona’s focus on ‘integrity’ ensures that it operates with the highest standards of conduct and maintains the trust and respect of its customers and partners. Strong work ethic and education across all areas ensures that the Business gets it, as best they can, right the first time from products to marketing, to technical support.

For more information, please visit: www.belzona.com

The Ultimate Guide to Fan Selection in Fume Extraction Systems

With laboratory set up, operational maintenance and the intricacies of daily running, ensuring worker safety, regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency in labs is paramount. Containment of chemical substances is one of the key activities in laboratories and process systems, and at the core of these systems, when maintaining the required pressure and airflow to extract fumes effectively, the responsibility rests with the industrial fan. This makes correct fan selection one of the most important system specifications. Enter our comprehensive specifier white paper: "The Ultimate Guide to Fan Selection in Fume Extraction Systems." ­­

Free to download from the Axair Fans website by scanning the QR code shown, this comprehensive resource, written by the experts in fume fans and air movement for chemical applications, is your roadmap to mastering the process of fan selection in complicated fume extraction systems, ensuring a healthier, safer, and more productive workspace.

Navigating the array of fan options can be overwhelming, especially when faced with the challenging task of managing hazardous fumes and airborne contaminants. That's where our guide comes in. With over 30 years of fan selection expertise, we've condensed the complexities of fan selection into an accessible and easy to understand document, that equips you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions. Whether from supplier choice, to understanding the questions you’re asked to ensure system compliance, understanding airflow requirements and system compatibility to deciphering the nuances of corrosion resistance and material durability, offering a practical toolkit to guide you through the selection process.

Where static discharge can be a concern in certain environments such as chemical laboratories, we’ll explore the role of carbon loaded ATEX fans that effectively dissipate accumulated static discharge and gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between fan specifications, ductwork design, and effective fume extraction. We’ll explain the importance of EN14986 known as “The design of fans working in potentially explosive atmospheres” and how products must be constructed in compliance with directives to ensure fan components do not act as a source of ignition.  

By the time you've gone through the pages in the guide, you’ll be in a stronger position to write specifications to pass to future stakeholders, to talk to suppliers confidently or to troubleshoot poor system performance, armed with the information you need for fast and efficient decisions.

Who are Axair Fans?

Axair Fans are industrial air movement and fan integration specialists established in 1985 with a singular goal – to help to build better systems, systems that make our customers more successful. Working with specifiers, consultants, OEM’s and contractors at all stages of the specification and buying process in a wide range of chemical applications including laboratory, containment, process, environmental and industrial sectors.

Visit https://www.axair-fans.co.uk/industrial-applications-industrial-fans/the-ultimate-guide-to-specifier-fan-selection-in-fume-extraction-systems/ to download your free copy now.

 

The Disastrous Consequences of Neglecting Health and Safety: Are Food and Drink Factories Designed with Employee Safety in Mind?

When it comes to health and safety in food and drink factories, many tend focus on hygiene within production and the threat of contamination to products, as well as possible risks for consumers.

However, the health and safety risks to employees working in these factories are an equally important issue.

2022 HSE statistics show a 28% year-on-year rise in non-fatal injuries in the workplace, with slips, trips or falls, handling, lifting or carrying and being struck by a moving object being the leading causes.

And with more and more people now returning to factories post-Covid, the potential for the numbers to continue to rise exponentially is increasing.

Staff injuries can be particularly detrimental, and not just for the individual, slowing down operations and leading to a decrease in profits along with potential reputational damage. This means that for business owners, being aware of how to minimise the risks is invaluable.

Ian Hart, business development director of adi Projects, an engineering company delivering a multitude of projects within food and drink factories, comments: “The issue of employee safety is one that deserves as much attention as that of contamination within these environments.

“It is a topic of utmost importance. Staff health and safety risks in factories can be overlooked for a number of reasons, and it is vital that these are correctly identified and dealt with for the benefit of employees and overall operations.”

What are the main hazards within food and drink factories?

There are a number of hazards that are common in food and drink factories and that become difficult to manage if the factors posing a threat are not identified and properly dealt with.

“Food factories are inherently full of hazards such as rotating machinery, hot and cold pipes, chemical substances, electrical lines and much more. Humans can become exposed to chemical substances, be required to utilise tools or equipment that are not fit for use, or be subject to slips or falls from height,” says Ian.

“There is a clear element of danger for staff working within these environments. But this doesn’t mean facility owners can become complacent: there are measures and processes that should be put into place to prevent injuries, which can be highly effective.”

According to the HSE, over 30% of food and drink industry injuries are related to manual handling, such as back injuries, causing around 1700 acute injuries each year.

Manual labour including stacking, moving or pushing heavy objects is one of the main causes of injury, and automation of these risky repetitive tasks such as through mechanical handling systems can be instrumental in reducing risks. Yet each individual hazard requires a tailored solution.

Reflecting on the importance of taking a responsible, holistic approach to risk management, Ian comments: "Hazards such as slips, falls and those stemming from workplace transport, moving objects or machinery hazards can't be eliminated altogether: there are certain processes within factories that can't be eradicated yet. But this doesn’t mean that these hazards can't be controlled to reduce risks.”

Designing factories with safety in mind

“Minimising risks starts with factory design, and has it at its core. There are specific considerations to be taken when designing food factories to maximise safety and increase accessibility.

“Factors include limiting points of contact between hazards and humans, such as having hot or cold pipes in the celling void instead of anywhere near people, or ensuring rotating machinery is adequately guarded, so that risk of injury to those in the factory is minimised,” says Ian.

With slips and trips making up for 35% of major injuries in the food and drink sector, being caused by wet floors, uneven surfaces or other obstructions, design factors become particularly important in this context.

Ensuring safe access with proper facility design is equally vital when it comes to falls from height – the third most common cause of fatal injury in the industry.

“There is often a mentality that dictates that slips, falls and similar accidents are common in these environments, and that there isn’t much that can be done. But this mindset can be incredibly detrimental,” adds Ian.

“When designing facilities, it’s important to give some thought to the overall infrastructure, asking questions such as how do you make the factory as dry as possible? How do you prevent contamination of walkways, or ensure there’s enough grip on the floors?

“Something as simple as building factories with the proper flooring or having suitable lighting inside the facility can significantly reduce certain risks.

“Ultimately, it’s about alleviating all the sources of danger and reducing staff exposure to hazards. If the risks are adequately addressed at the design stage, achieving continued high levels of safety becomes easier in the long-term.”

Maintenance as a priority

Manufacturers in the industry often operate from older facilities with outdated equipment, which can constitute a challenge with regards to health and safety. Regardless of whether certain safety measures were put into place at the design stage when factories were built, it is likely that unless proper maintenance has been carried out, the facility is no longer safe.

“Regular health and safety assessment of the production lines and of the equipment are essential in any facility. Many forget that over time, equipment breaks down, or decide to make significant alterations without carrying out proper risk assessments,” says Ian.

“Equipment could be perfectly safe and compliant when it’s first introduced, but that doesn’t mean it will remain safe after years of continued usage. Maintenance needs to be a continuous priority: in a live factory, things are changing all the time, which means that the reassessment of lines is vital.

"There has to be an adequate awareness as to the risks brought on by a certain type of equipment, what its life span is and what investments are needed to enable this equipment to continue to be safe.

“And overall, it’s down to manufacturers to build this vital awareness in order to protect its staff and ensure the smooth running of operations.”

As a division of multidisciplinary engineering business adi Group, five-time winners of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Health and Safety Awards, being recognised as one of the few businesses from around the world with impeccably high health and safety standards, adi Projects is best positioned to provide expert health and safety advice to manufacturing businesses.

adi Projects has provided innovative solutions for a number of clients dealing with complex facility design and health and safety challenges, solving each problem at hand with a tailored, strategic approach. To learn more about our services, please visit: https://www.adiltd.co.uk/divisions/adi-projects

WELTEC BIOPOWER is constructing three biogas plants in Greece

Farmers focus on proven stainless steel technology

The Greek agricultural sector has trusted WELTEC BIOPOWER's biogas technologies since 2007 - and this trend is continuing. Most recently, three biogas plants were built, which the German manufacturer designed together with its Greek cooperation partner Tetoros Machinery. Two of these are located in the Epirus region, in northwestern Greece: a 1-megawatt plant in the town of Arta and a 500-kilowatt plant in Ioannina. The third one, a 250-kilowatt biogas plant project, was realized in Serres, in central Macedonia. Here, an upgrade of the CHP plant to 750 kilowatts is also being implemented. The plant in Ioannina will go into production in the fall of 2023.

The region around Epirus is particularly rural. Poultry and cattle production dominate the area. As in many other intensive farming areas, the biomass supply there is higher than the processing capacity of the existing plants. The construction of new biogas plants and the modernization of existing ones are therefore profitable, especially since such projects are supported by subsidies. Thus, not least, the rich substrate supply at the three plant locations was also an important factor for the investment decisions.

At the 1-megawatt plant in Arta, 150 tons of cattle slurry and 50 tons of dry chicken manure are processed daily. At the biogas plant site in Ioannina, the daily input is made up of 100 tons of cattle slurry and 30 tons of dry chicken manure. And in Serres, a substrate mix of 40 tons of cattle manure and 10 tons of energy plants enters the stainless steel digester daily. Here, in addition to his cattle farming, the operator owns land on which corn is grown.

At all three sites, the materials are first sent to a pre-storage tank. Special agitators and pump technology ensures the pretreatment. In the digesters, the proven agitators then mix the substrates for efficient biogas production. The two digesters in Arta each hold 4436 cbm, in Ioannina there is a 3993-cbm digester, and the tank in Serres measures 4905 cbm. "All tanks are made of high-grade stainless steel," specifies the responsible process engineer at WELTEC BIOPOWER, Tobias Peuker. According to him, the fermentation residue from the digester with its high nutrient content can also be used as fertilizer afterwards.

The three biogas projects are an important part of the Greek energy transition. For example, according to a report by DAPEEP S.A., the Greek market operator for renewable energy sources, new biomass, and biogas plants with a total capacity of 7 megawatts came online in the first half of 2022. The Greek Energy and Climate Plan aims to double the share of renewable energy in electricity generation from 30 % in 2021 to 60 % in 2030. WELTEC BIOPOWER has already implemented a total of around 36 biogas plants and projects there since 2007. And the path to decarbonization continues to make progress: In the summer of 2023, Greece's entire one-day energy demand could have been supplied from renewable energy sources for the first time. "This means we are well on our way and will continue to make our contribution to achieving the goal," predicts WELTEC BIOPOWER's Greek sales partner, John Tetoros.

DSEAR Compliance FAQs: Ensuring Safety and Compliance for Your Business

Whether you're seeking guidance on the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR) applicability to your business or information on conducting a risk assessment, we are here to assist you every step of the way. 

As a provider of DSEAR compliance services, we are dedicated to ensuring the safety and compliance of your operations. Our team of experts is well-versed in the intricacies of DSEAR and can provide you with the guidance and expertise you need.

In the following FAQs, we provide answers to your questions about DSEAR, ensuring you have the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and maintain a safe workplace.

What is DSEAR?

DSEAR aims to prevent or limit the harmful effects of fires, explosions, and similar energy-releasing events, as well as corrosion to metals. These regulations specifically focus on controlling and managing the risks associated with dangerous substances in the workplace. By implementing the necessary measures, businesses can ensure the safety of their employees, prevent accidents and mitigate the potential damage caused by such incidents.

What is ATEX?

ATEX is short for "Atmospheres Explosibles" and is the name commonly given to the two European directives for controlling explosive atmospheres: directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137’ or the ‘ATEX workplace directive’) and directive 94/9/ EC (also known as ‘ATEX 95’ or ‘the ATEX equipment directive’). They aim to improve health and safety in workplaces with explosive atmospheres. In the UK, these directives are implemented through DSEAR.

Is DSEAR compliance a legal requirement?

Yes, compliance with DSEAR is not just a recommendation, but a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASWA). This regulation places responsibilities on employers and the self-employed to ensure the safety of individuals in the workplace and protect the public from any risks arising from work activities. With the potential hazards of dangerous substances, such as fire, explosion, and corrosion of metal, compliance with DSEAR is essential to safeguarding people's safety. DSEAR operates as an enabling act under the HASWA, emphasising the legal obligation for your organisations to adhere to its guidelines and take proactive measures to mitigate risks associated with dangerous substances.

Is a DSEAR risk assessment a legal requirement?

Yes, a DSEAR risk assessment is a legal requirement for most workplaces that deal with hazardous substances. It is important to identify the hazards associated with your work, assess the risks involved, and implement appropriate control measures to ensure the safety of your employees and the public. 

Who enforces non-compliance with DSEAR?

Non-compliance with DSEAR is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or Local Authorities, depending on premises allocation under the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998. Further information on non-compliance with DSEAR enforcement can be found here

What are the potential penalties for not completing a DSEAR risk assessment? 

Compliance can sometimes feel like a burden, but it is crucial to emphasise the potential penalties for not completing a DSEAR risk assessment. Non-compliance with DSEAR carries significant consequences, both legally and ethically. The penalties can range from civil to criminal repercussions, underscoring the seriousness of the matter. However, the consequences extend beyond legal implications. Failing to prioritise DSEAR compliance puts people's safety at risk, which can lead to injuries, and in the worst cases, even fatalities. Furthermore, non-compliance can have detrimental effects on the environment, causing lasting damage and impacting the trust and confidence that customers and stakeholders place in your business. 

Can anyone undertake a DSEAR risk assessment?

DSEAR requires employers or self-employed individuals to conduct a risk assessment before starting any new work involving dangerous substances. If your business has five or more employees, you should record the significant findings of the assessment as soon as possible. DSEAR assessors must have suitable knowledge, experience, instruction and training to be considered a 'competent person'.

Does having a CompEx qualification qualify me to undertake a DSEAR risk assessment? 

While the CompEx scheme is beneficial for a DSEAR assessor, it does not measure competence specifically for DSEAR risk assessments. The CompEx scheme has various competency modules and is recognised globally for validating the competency of electrical technicians and engineers in hazardous explosive atmospheres. More recently, CompEx has evolved to include other industry-specific competency assessments. 

What level of competence is required to undertake a DSEAR risk assessment? 

Currently, there is no internationally recognised body that certifies an individual's competence in conducting DSEAR assessments. The concept of a competent person does not have a fixed definition or a specific licensing requirement. However, it is crucial to ensure that these assessments are conducted by qualified professionals who possess the necessary expertise and specialist knowledge of the regulations. 

Assessing competence in this area is challenging, as it involves a combination of knowledge and experience. An ideal DSEAR assessor would have a well-rounded background, encompassing experience from various industries and commercial sectors. They should possess the ability to identify hazards and risks associated with the handling, storage and use of potentially flammable or explosive materials. Furthermore, they need to be proficient in recommending and documenting suitable and sufficient solutions to effectively reduce risks to a responsible and practical level.

While quantifying competence in this field is difficult, it is important that you engage a competent person for DSEAR assessments to ensure accurate and thorough evaluations of the risks associated with dangerous substances. By relying on experienced and knowledgeable individuals, businesses can confidently fulfil their obligations and maintain a safe working environment.

How frequently should a DSEAR risk assessment be reviewed?

While there is no specific timeframe mandated for conducting a DSEAR assessment, it is recommended by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) that you complete a review at intervals not exceeding three years. However, it's important to consider that the frequency of review may vary depending on different factors and the specific circumstances of your workplace. Regular reviews are crucial, especially when there are changes in your work environment. If your facility deals with hazardous substances or if there are outstanding recommendations from a previous DSEAR assessment, it is advisable to conduct more frequent reviews, such as annually. Additionally, any significant changes in your business operations should trigger a review of your DSEAR risk assessment.

The primary goal is to ensure that your assessment remains up-to-date and relevant to effectively manage risks related to dangerous substances in your workplace.

How do I know if my DSEAR risk assessment is suitable and sufficient?

If you employ five or more people, it is essential to maintain a written record of the significant findings. This record can be kept separately or integrated into the overall assessment under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The HSE's Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) 138, specifically Sections 5 (2) and 5 (3), provides valuable information on what considerations should be included in a suitable assessment.

By following these guidelines and documenting the key findings, you can ensure that your DSEAR risk assessment meets the necessary requirements and covers the important aspects to effectively manage the risks associated with dangerous substances in your workplace.

How do I know if DSEAR applies to my business? 

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion or corrosion of metal.

These substances can be found in almost all workplaces, including solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases like liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dust from machining and sanding operations, dust from foodstuffs, pressurised gases, and substances corrosive to metal. It's important to consider other energetic events like runaway exothermic reactions involving chemicals or decomposition of unstable substances, which are also covered by DSEAR. 

Whether it's a factory, construction site, railway, or any other workplace, it's essential to comply with the relevant DSEAR requirements to ensure the safety of individuals and minimise risks associated with dangerous substances.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to implement control measures to eliminate or reduce risks associated with dangerous substances to the extent reasonably practicable. Where it is not possible to eliminate the risk completely, you must take measures to control risks and mitigate the effects of any harmful event.  

The EU CLP Regulation has also introduced changes, classifying more substances as flammable due to increased flashpoint thresholds. This is partly because the upper flashpoint for classification as a flammable liquid has been increased from 55 °C to 60 °C. The changes mean that for example, diesel, gas oil and light heating oils are now classified as flammable liquids.

What are the important factors to consider for ensuring compliance with DSEAR and maintaining workplace safety?

When considering DSEAR, there are several common factors to consider to ensure safety and compliance these are outlined below:

  • Assess whether a flammable atmosphere can exist in your workplace, as this can pose significant risks
  • Identify potential ignition sources that could ignite the flammable atmosphere
  • Review existing control measures in place to prevent or minimise the risks associated with dangerous substances
  • Consider area classification requirements to properly define hazardous zones and implement appropriate safety measures
  • Conduct a risk rating to help evaluate the severity of potential hazards and prioritise necessary actions
  • Carefully review recommendations provided by experts or regulatory guidelines to ensure the implementation of suitable control measures.

By considering these factors, you can proactively address the risks associated with dangerous substances and promote a safe working environment.

Should area/zonal drawings be prepared for explosive environments?

ATEX hazardous areas, as defined in DSEAR, refer to "any place in which an explosive atmosphere may occur in quantities such as to require special precautions to protect the safety of workers". Area classification is a method used to analyse and classify environments where explosive gas atmospheres can potentially occur. Its main purpose is to ensure the proper selection and installation of equipment that can be safely used in such environments, considering the properties of flammable materials present. 

Having drawings can be highly beneficial in identifying these zones, documenting and maintaining equipment and promoting awareness among individuals interacting with these areas. Ideally, copies of the drawings should be readily available, even posted at the entry points to hazardous areas, along with appropriate signage to reinforce the understanding of the area classifications.

Can a DSEAR risk assessment for installing new equipment on-site be conducted without visiting the site?

If you're installing new equipment on-site, you might wonder if a DSEAR risk assessment can be completed as a desktop exercise without visiting the site. It is highly recommended that organisations seeking assistance with areas or equipment covered by DSEAR engage as early as possible. While pre-installation project reports and advice can provide valuable support in terms of planning and purchasing new equipment, it is important to note that these are complementary to the risk assessment process. Conducting a thorough DSEAR risk assessment always requires a site visit to properly evaluate the specific conditions and hazards present on-site.

Can a DSEAR risk assessment for changing a process on-site be completed without visiting the site?

Engaging with a competent consultant at the earliest opportunity can potentially result in significant savings. However, it is important to understand that a suitable and sufficient DSEAR assessment cannot be conducted without a site visit. The on-site visit is crucial to assess the specific changes to the process and evaluate the associated risks in order to ensure compliance and safety.

Should a new DSEAR risk assessment be completed when changing a process on-site?

Any significant changes to equipment or processes require a revised DSEAR risk assessment to ensure ongoing compliance and safety.

Is it acceptable to have multiple companies complete DSEAR risk assessments for different equipment/processes?

While DSEAR assessments can be conducted on different equipment in isolation, it is important to have an overall assessment of combined risks. Your business should consider the impact of activities or machinery/plant on each other and have a comprehensive DSEAR assessment.

What are some common misconceptions about DSEAR?

There are several common misconceptions regarding DSEAR:

  • Many people are unaware of the regulation and believe it does not apply to the majority of workplaces
  • It is mistakenly believed that high-risk activities or equipment must involve large volumes of hazardous materials, which is not the case
  • Some assume that DSEAR only covers large facilities, but in fact, it includes risk assessments for staff handling even the smallest quantities of flammable liquids
  • There is a misconception that DSEAR does not cover natural gas installations, pipe networks, and boiler rooms, whereas it does
  • Some are unaware that DSEAR also covers the risks associated with fire and explosion of all batteries on-site
  • It is wrongly assumed that it is solely the employer's responsibility to ensure their contractors are competent in DSEAR if applicable
  • Having a DSEAR assessment does not automatically imply compliance with DSEAR. Compliance entails taking action on the recommendations provided in the assessment report.

What information is required to carry out a DSEAR risk assessment?

To conduct a DSEAR risk assessment, the assessor will typically need the following information:

  • The nature of your business and any site-specific hazards or personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements
  • The size of the site and the number of buildings within it
  • Access to previous DSEAR and Fire Risk Assessment reports
  • Access to process diagrams and Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (PIDs)
  • The layout of the site, including the arrangement of processes and services
  • Access to employee training records related to DSEAR, as well as risk assessments, Safe Systems of Work (SSOW), and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Access to all areas of the site, including plant rooms and boiler houses
  • A knowledgeable site contact and guide who is familiar with the site's health and safety arrangements (ideally the site health and safety manager)
  • A knowledgeable site contact and guide who has information about the site's assets and maintenance arrangements (ideally the site maintenance or engineering manager)
  • A knowledgeable site contact and guide who understands the site's processes (ideally the site process engineer and/or production manager)
  • A list of the quantities of each flammable material stored on-site, a location map of the materials, and any segregation requirements, as well as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the materials.

Please note that the information required to carry out a DSEAR risk assessment will vary from site to site and the information above is a general guideline. 

Get in touch 

If you have any questions about DSEAR and its applicability to your organisation, SOCOTEC UK is here to assist you.

Get it touch

www.socotec.co.uk

This article can also be found in the issue below.

 

Vertical Farming: Overcoming the Engineering Challenges to Maximise the Benefits

The need to streamline production and more effectively use resources is at the heart of the rise in popularity of vertical farming, an industry that has been growing at a staggering pace in recent years, and that is widely regarded as the future of sustainable food production.

The increase in demand for organic, fresh, locally grown produce, coupled with the urgent need to reduce our carbon footprint, has driven more and more businesses to explore vertical farming, an innovative way to grow crops that requires less land and reduces our reliance on natural resources.

The use of technology in a controlled indoor environment has the ability to significantly optimise growth, allowing farmers to grow produce in every season regardless of weather conditions, increasing reliability as well as profits.

In spite of its numerous advantages, the practice of vertical farming presents specific challenges, which businesses need to be adequately prepared for in order to better exploit its benefits and maximise their success.

Here, Ian Hart, business development director at adi Projects, a division of leading engineering firm adi Group, gives expert advice on the engineering solutions businesses need to adopt in order to successfully navigate the vertical farming field.

What makes vertical farming more future-proof than traditional and greenhouse farming?

It is a well-known fact intensive traditional farming techniques and the use of pesticides can significantly damage ecosystems and affect the growth of crops, and with rising temperatures increasingly threatening the extinction of a large number of edible crops, change is nothing short of necessary.

When compared to other sectors’ total emissions, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions alone accounted for 11% of total emissions in the UK in 2020, and environmentally friendly farming practices such as vertical farming offer a clear course of action to help bring this figure down.

With more and more businesses focussing on operating sustainably, and consequentially, on the way they make use of precious natural resources such as water, the role of vertical farming becomes even more prominent.

Vertical faming allows manufacturers to produce crops with 70-95% less water than is required in traditional farming, making it a vital resource in our battle to safeguard our natural environments.

And with monitoring land usage being another crucial factor in increasing our sustainability efforts, being able to harvest 80% more produce per area unit while taking up 90% less land is a particularly valuable achievement.

Greenhouse farming – sometimes confused with vertical farming – harnesses the advantages of a semi-controlled environment, also giving farmers the ability to grow fresh, pesticide-free crops year-round.

However, vertical farming uses less water when compared to greenhouse farming, too, with this usually being fed down the stacked towers from the top. This means nutrients in the water can be recycled, and less compost and fertiliser are needed.

Ultimately, vertical farming allows for much higher crop yield than any other farming methods – just one acre of a vertical farm can grow roughly the same amount of product as 10 to 20 soil-based acres.

These complex indoor environments also allow for more control over the quality of produce, with a larger number of controllable factors such as temperature, humidity and lighting, ultimately making them significantly more future-proof.

Controlling vertical farming environments effectively

Though vertical farming is the answer to a number of concerns surrounding traditional farming practices, not being equipped with the right knowledge and systems can result in a significant waste of money and resources.

When it comes to vertical farming, improved quality is an added benefit, meaning plants can be grown in accordance with strict manufacturing standards.

The purified air present within these environments allows crops to grow without being contaminated by pests, spores and yeast. However, these delicate indoor environments need to satisfy particular conditions, requiring specialist watering and de-watering systems, and the right knowledge to operate them.

As they grow, plants themselves release large quantities of water, and controlling that water within a closed loop air change system inside the room can often be difficult.

Air should be treated first to remove the contaminants that are present in the air stream, with the added challenge that the air itself becomes wet due to the water evaporating from the plants.

Maintaining the purity of these environments and avoiding contamination means this air can’t simply be let out through a window. Reducing waste and the added costs of cleaning air to a high standard more times than what is strictly necessary requires technology that can de-water the clean air and feed it back into the overall system.

The most cost-effective and efficient solution long-term is relying on systems that can exploit the air’s dew points and allow the water to condense back out again, as well as effectively deal with pressurisation and temperature.

Ultimately, there are multiple process elements that come into this, but getting the overall design correct is crucial.

However, controlling vertical farming environments comes with individual challenges depending on the type of facility and the type of crops being grown, meaning that businesses would get the most benefit from investing in bespoke engineering solutions.

What about pharmaceutical crops?

Though the majority of vertical farming facilities are dedicated to cultivating food crops, the practice of producing pharmaceutical grade plants such as cannabis in vertical farms is becoming increasingly popular.

Being able to produce pharmaceutical grade plants in a controlled environment similarly reduces the risk of any contamination, theoretically producing a better and safer product.

And growing products of a consistently high standard is particularly important in the context of medicinal plants.

When it comes to the pharmaceutical and medical industry, higher standards need to be upheld in order to comply with FDA, MHRA and EMA regulations, with product quality being a factor of utmost importance for industrial buyers.

This is where design factors become even more relevant, as even minor miscalculations can cause producers to fail quality standards and be unable to sell their product. Suitable control procedures also minimise the risk of bio-crops being released into the environment.

Overcoming the engineering challenges

Removing risk during the planning and construction stages and for the duration of a vertical farming facility’s lifecycle requires being mindful from the onset, to ensure continuity throughout and prevent waste of energy and product.

Vertical farming provides a substantial opportunity to help brands forge solid reputations as innovators and help create circular economies. However, there are obstacles to overcome if vertical farming is to fulfil its potential, and relying on first-class, bespoke engineering systems and solutions holds the key.

With years of experience in developing tailor-made solutions for clients to help them cater to emerging marketplaces, adi Group takes a 360 approach to engineering projects, addressing clients’ needs and integrating quality every step of the way.

For more information on vertical farming solutions and how adi can help, please visit:  https://www.adiltd.co.uk/

This article can also be found in the issue below.

 

What Is a Gas Detection Wearable? Frequently Asked Questions About Connected Safety Technology

The number of workplace injuries remains nearly unchanged year-over-year, with more than 2 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by provide industry employees in 2019.[i] And up to 90% of workplace injuries can be attributed to human error.

While PPE has not traditionally had the technological capabilities to help prevent worker injury due to human error, the latest safety innovations, such as gas detection wearables, can help provide the visibility and data-driven insights to help your organization create an adaptable, proactive safety program and establish a culture of behaviour-based safety. Connected, wearable technology is leading the way for gas detection programs to evolve and enhance both their approach to worker safety and their approach to record-keeping, compliance, and fleet management.

But transforming your organisation to a connected program does not happen overnight. The first step is understanding the benefits of wearable technology and how a connected program can work for your organisation.

To start, what is a gas detection wearable? What are the benefits of connected safety technology? Here are answers to those top questions:

  1. What is a gas detection wearable?

A gas detection wearable is designed to be worn by each individual worker, on his/her person, while on the jobsite. With a wearable detector that can simply clip directly on to apparel or other PPE, such as a fall harness, lone workers can be monitored in real-time to help provide critical data points about on-site workers to off-site safety managers, including emergency monitoring.

A wearable device can be a useful way to monitor workers’ safety, location, and behaviors; however, it may not always be enough to help build a proactive, adaptable gas detection safety program over time.

But a wearable gas detector that comes with automatic connectivity can be much more impactful in terms of driving transformation, efficiency, and reaching long-term safety and productivity goals of a gas detection program.

  1. What does the term “connected” mean for gas detection hardware?

The term “connected” not only means a connected device – one that comes with out-of-the-box, cutting-edge cellular connectivity through leading national networks – but also a comprehensive solution inclusive of hardware software. It’s not necessarily enough to simply have cellular connectivity; hardware should also be connected to software, so that connectivity can provide the real-time data and insights to help drive adaptable, proactive safety programs.

This connectivity transforms hardware from traditional PPE to a technology-based, future-forward solution.  Successful integration of this advanced technology requires that not only are devices smarter and capable of providing visibility and insights to help curb risk, boost productivity, and simplify compliance, but also that they continue to perform with the durability and functionality to maintain their first and foremost mission of helping to protect the worker. As a wearable device, the detector should maintain the IP-rating, sensor technology, and battery life expected of today’s most durable portable gas detectors.

A wearable device that comes with automatic connectivity right out-of-the-box allows for quick and seamless implementation, no IT required.

  1. How can wearable, connected technology help improve worker safety?

The most common industries for lone workers include oil and gas, telecommunications, utilities, construction, and industrial contractors. With wearable devices, safety managers can help ensure these lone workers are not completely alone. By digitally assigning a wearable device to individual workers at the start of each shift, safety managers can gain insight into key individual worker data including:

  • Compliance of device use and faulty safety behaviours, including turning off an instrument or changing settings
  • Workers’ locations, gas readings, and alarms
  • Safety behaviours in the field, and whether new training specific to individuals is needed

A connected work program for gas detection can provide the visibility that is needed to manage large teams of workers and help establish a behaviour-based culture of safety. With real-time visibility of lone workers, safety managers can help make sure those workers are protected, with instant alerts. And  connected hardware and software solutions can provide real-time data such as worker location and how the detector is being used by each worker – which can all help inform safety training to both drive worker safety day-to-day and enhance an organisation’s safety culture over time.

  1. How can wearable technology improve worksite safety?

 

It can be difficult to difficult to manage assets across different worksites and keep remote teams safe and productive. Connecting worksites with wearable, connected technology gives safety managers visibility into:

  • Teams and assets, including worker position and activities and which devices require maintenance
  • External and environmental factors, such as temperature or humidity
  • Equipment status, maintenance, and asset management information across all worksite locations
  • Centralized reports and data logs for automated compliance
  • Intelligent mapping and zone segmentation, automated digital follow-ups, alarm sharing, and heatmapping to help drive operation-wide safety

With notifications available on both desktop and mobile devices, safety managers can get alerts when alarm exposure or SOS event occurs. Other details such as GPS location, gas readings, and compliance data are readily available within these immediate notifications provides safety managers with the visibility needed to manage safety and productivity across multiple worksites at once, all from remote, off-site locations.

 

  1. How can wearable technology improve compliance and accountability across an organization?

Since a non-compliant detector can lead to potentially disastrous outcomes, it’s essential to ensure that every device is optimised. In other words, every device operates and protects the worker as it should. Technology not only makes this possible, it also makes it seamless. Advanced features that wearable technologies for gas detection should include are:

  • Automatic bump tests and calibration when devices need it
  • Visual indicators with green, yellow, and red lights representing “compliant,” “non-compliant,” and “in alarm,” respectively
  • Device lock out to ensure that non-compliant devices are not inadvertently used
  • Real-time historical data into specific workers
  1. Can wearable devices help improve compliance and overall workflows?

Connected wearable devices allow you to connect workflows across your organization by providing insight into compliance and productivity issues. This information, coupled with connected cloud-based software, can allow you to:

  • Automate compliance and help to reduce false alarms, remove asset-related risks, and lower the cost of downtime
  • Determine if instruments have been configured correctly and are compliant in testing and while in use
  • Create comprehensive reports in an industry standard format
  1. What type of investment should an organization anticipate for implementing new wearable and connected technology across their workers and worksites?

 

With the latest technology, often comes newer business models to help drive your organizations’ transformation to a connected safety program. Subscription models that include both detector hardware and software options can help enable faster implementation, along with increased warranty coverage and ongoing software and firmware upgrades.

The right partner can help support your organisation’s connected safety journey with the right solution to fit your needs, from the number of wearables to various software options and features capabilities, giving you flexibility.

A seamlessly integrated solution of connected wearables and cloud-based software can provide visibility of your workers, worksite, and workflows that can make all the difference and help organizations drive a proactive safety culture over time.

Find out more about the latest innovations in connected gas detection wearables here.

 

 

What Role Does Polymeric Technology Play in Burgeoning Wind Industry?

There has been considerable growth in the wind power industry over the past few years. However, further exponential growth of the industry is required in order to ensure that the net-zero by 2050 pathway (outlined in the Paris Agreement) is successfully reached.

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Figure 1 - Maintaining the integrity of wind turbines with polymeric technology

In order to support this seismic growth, polymeric repair and protection technology has an important part to play. Designed to safeguard the integrity of wind turbine blade leading edges for the long term, this technology plays a critical role in supporting this burgeoning industry.

Wind Electricity Generation Needs to Grow Fourfold by 2030

According to the International Energy Association’s (IEA) Wind Electricity Tracking Report

(September 2022): “In 2021 wind electricity generation increased by a record 273 TWh (up 17%). This was 55% higher growth than that achieved in 2020 and was the highest among all renewable power technologies.”

While the industry has undoubtedly experienced impressive levels of growth in these years, according to the IEA, wind electricity generation needs to reach four times the record levels set in 2020 by 2030. The Report said: “Our pathway calls for scaling up solar and wind rapidly this decade, reaching annual additions of […] 390 GW of wind by 2030”.

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Figure 2- Wind electricity generation needs to grow fourfold by 2030 (IEA. License: CC BY 4.0)

How is the Scale-Up of the Wind Industry Being Financed?

According to the IEA’s Report: “Policy support remains the principal driver of wind deployment in the majority of the world.” Indeed, over the past few years, several policies have been launched that are designed to drive forward the roll-out of renewables.

For example, in August 2022, the US brought in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which includes $369 billion (US dollars) of investment, in the European Commission’s Green Deal Industrial Plan, $270 billion (US dollars) was pledged, and since the UK government’s Ten Point Plan was launched in November 2020, over £26 billion of government capital investment has been mobilised.

Safeguarding Expanding Fleets of Wind Turbines with Polymeric Technology

Given the critical role wind power plays in the transition to a net-zero future, as well as the significant amount of capital being invested into the renewables industry, the wind power sector is poised to experience considerable exponential growth in the upcoming decades. In order to support this growth, polymeric technology plays a significant role when it comes to maintaining the operational efficiency of the rapidly expanding fleets of wind turbines.

Polymeric systems such as the rebuild, blade filler material, Belzona 5711 and the cartridge-applied leading edge protection coating, Belzona 5721, are specially designed to repair damaged leading edges and protect them against rain erosion and impact damage for the long term.

In addition to the performance capabilities of these systems, maintenance engineers are investing in this technology due to the simple, in-situ application method and fast cure times the cold-curing systems facilitate. In turn, this helps to keep downtime to a minimum, and allows the turbine to be returned to service in the same day.

Belzona 5711 can be directly overcoated with Belzona 5721 in as little as 30 minutes at 20°C/68°F without the need for any additional surface preparation. At the same temperature, Belzona 5721 will be fully cured within five hours.

Below is a case study featuring the repair and protection of a wind turbine leading edge with Belzona 5711 and Belzona 5721.

Wind Turbine Blade Repaired and Protected

Belzona, a global designer and manufacturer of industrial protective coatings and repair composites, successfully addressed the wind turbine blade damage issue at Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand’s (EGAT) Khao Yai Thiang Windfarm in Thailand.

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Figure 3 - Leading edge damaged by erosion

Leading Edge Erosion Damage

The windfarm features wind turbines with 40-metre-long (131.2 ft) blades. During routine inspections, evidence of damage measuring 300 cm x 14 cm x 2 mm (118 in x 5 in x 0.08 in) on the leading edge of one of the blades was discovered.

System Selection

Representatives from the 35-year-old Belzona Authorised Distributorship, Pan Mechanic Engineering, recommended the solvent-free, two-part repair paste, Belzona 5711, to reconstruct the damaged area on the blades, followed by the high-performance coating, Belzona 5721, to overcoat the area.

Application Procedure

The application procedure involved surface preparation using an orbital sander, followed by the direct application of approximately 1.4 kg (3.1 lbs) of Belzona 5711 from a self-mixing cartridge onto the blade. The repair area was contoured using a piece of Belzona mixing board.

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Figure 4 - Surface preparation using an orbital sander

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Figure 5 - Self-mixing Belzona 5711 cartridge

After a two-hour curing period, a visual inspection was conducted to ensure the application's readiness for overcoating with approximately 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs) of Belzona 5721. Using a short-bristled brush, this system was then applied to the leading edge and left to cure. The blade was back in service 24 hours later.

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Figure 6 – Application of repair paste, Belzona 5711

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Figure 7 – Application of high-performance coating, Belzona 5721

EGAT's technicians were trained at the Belzona Asia Pacific facility to perform the application, with two representatives from Belzona's Technical Service Department present on site to observe and provide guidance.

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Figure 8 – Completed repair and protection of leading edge

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Figure 9 – Successful application of Belzona polymeric systems

Commenting on the application, an EGAT representative said: "We are extremely satisfied with

the results achieved by Belzona's leading edge repair and protection system. The application procedure was very simple, and could be carried out quickly, which ensured that downtime was kept to a minimum. We plan to place an order for more Belzona 5711 and Belzona 5721 .”

Supporting a Net-Zero Future

In order to support the seismic growth of the wind power sector, polymeric technology, such as Belzona 5711 and Belzona 5721, plays a critical role. By safeguarding the integrity of wind turbine blades, this helps to keep windfarms functioning at their optimum efficiency, which in turn, supports a net-zero by 2050 pathway for the planet.


More information about Belzona’s solutions for the wind industry can be found at: http://www.belzona.com/en/industries/wind_power.aspx