Production of sulphuric acid through heat extraction

Published: 14 July 2019 - 7 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery
Corrosion-resistant materials and durable shaft sealing systems are two important design features of pumps, which will in future convey hot sulphuric acid at Aurubis in Hamburg. Aurubis exploits the waste heat created during production of this sulphuric acid to supply the eastern district of the HafenCity in Hamburg with CO2-free heat. The pumps employed are supplied by ITT RHEINHÜTTE Pumpen, which has a long tradition and proven record in the development and manufacture of pumps for corrosive media.

The Elbphilharmonie concert hall was not solely responsible for highlighting the HafenCity Hamburg project. In Europe’s largest urban development project, the Hanseatic City of Hamburg plans to regenerate a site of 157 hectares up until 2029 to create an urban living and working environment for around 14,000 residents and 45,000 workers.

One immediate neighbour of the HafenCity at least is an internationally renowned name in expert circles and making an unusual contribution to the ecological concept underlying the HafenCity. Aurubis is a global leader among suppliers of non-ferrous metals and the world’s largest copper recycler. The enterprise processes complex metal concentrates, scrap metals and recycling materials containing metal to produce metals of the highest quality.

While industrial firms are not necessarily regarded as the most desirable of neighbours in residential areas, Aurubis offers (future) residents and workers in the HafenCity an extremely valuable advantage. The company converts sulphur dioxide (a by-product of copper refining) into sulphuric acid in a contact plant through an exothermic process.

The heat created as a result of this is practically CO2-free and is mainly used to supply district heating to the eastern district of the HafenCity. According to the objective set for 2029, exploitation of industrial heat will save approximately 4,500 tonnes of CO2 per annum in the completed development. Taken together with internal usage at Aurubis and further external use, up to 20,000 tonne of CO2 will be saved each year.

Sulphuric acid production needs to be realised at a higher temperature than previously to enable the extraction of heat, and part of the contact plant has been converted specifically to achieve this. Hot sulphuric acid is conveyed here through sulphuric acid pumps supplied by ITT RHEINHÜTTE Pumpen from Wiesbaden. The company is a globally renowned pump specialist whose products play a leading role in international competition, particularly due to the comprehensive variety of materials and design features they incorporate.

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