Cooperation and innovation
Innovation and the development of sustainable products has a tradition at Werner & Mertz. Under this integrally sustainable philosophy, and to complement this trend, we have had a cooperation arrangement with the speciality chemical company Clariant since the end of 2015. This supplements the portfolio of sustainable raw materials that Werner & Mertz uses in the production of its cleaning products by adding another sustainable resource: sunliquid® cellulose alcohol. This second-generation bio-alcohol developed by Clariant has been in use in the Frosch multi-surface cleaner Bio-Spiritus Multiflächen-Reiniger since the beginning of 2016. Its production in Europe is mainly based on the residues of the wheat and barley production, mostly from Germany. The production takes place in Straubing and bottling in Mainz.
The sunliquid® process
The sunliquid® process is broken down into four technological subareas: first, the straw is shredded and thermally pre-treated to break open the stable lignocellulose structure and facilitate enzyme access to the sugar chains. Then, the straw fibres are divided into two batches: a very small share of the fibres are treated with special micro-organisms. These use the straw as a food source and very rapidly produce a large quantity of raw-material- and process-specific enzymes – a kind of biological scissors that can cut the long cellulose chains. These enzymes are then reintroduced to the main part of the raw material. They liquefy the straw and split up its constituents – cellulose and hemicellulose – into the sugars glucose, xylose, and arabinose. Lignin, the woody part of cellulose, is separated and combusted to provide energy for the process. Together with other by-products containing energy, the so-called residual streams, it represents the most important source of energy for the energy self-sufficient overall process. Specially developed fermentation organisms are then added to the resulting sugar solution, converting all of the sugar types into the alcohol type ethanol at the same time. In the last step, the water is removed.
Another contribution to climate protection
The sunliquid® process developed by Clariant converts plant residues almost entirely into high-quality bio-ethanol. The raw materials used are those of the so-called ‘second generation’, i.e. consisting of lignocellulose, the structural parts of the plants that are not suitable for food production. Each of these materials is found regionally, such as wheat straw in Europe. This saves a great deal of transport and greenhouse gas emissions as a result. In addition, because this is an energy self-sufficient overall process, up to 95% of emissions can be eliminated compared with fossil fuels. Its use of bio-alcohol is another way in which Werner & Mertz makes a major contribution to climate protection.