In the last 30 years, global raw material extraction has doubled to around 70 billion tons per year. Even today, this already significantly exceeds the earth’s regenerative capacity and endangers the development opportunities of future generations. (Federal Environment Agency)
Sustainability is an important topic in our modern times. Many companies are already taking the opportunity to leave something for future generations, each one sets its own priorities. This has unintentionally led to a great variety of responsibilities.
WZR has put its emphasis on the effective use of raw materials and on knowledge management.
WZR uses raw materials as effectively as possible in order to make a valuable contribution, protect our ecosystem and conserve our raw materials.
In addition to raw materials, knowledge management is also an important resource, which we take seriously.
On the following page you can learn more about our commitment. We always open for questions and suggestions.
In line with our priorities, we are focusing our efforts to date on the following three key concepts:
It is important for us not only to cover our need for junior staff, but also to offer pupils and students the opportunity to gain a first impression through internships or to gain first work experience. In addition to these internships, we regularly offer various training positions to counteract the lack of skilled workers. In addition, we try to support social institutions and projects such as the organization ‘Plan’ wherever possible.
Under this umbrella term we are mainly concerned with the reduction of our consumption of resources and the effective use of raw materials, which means that we pay more attention to reducing the consumption of electricity, water and paper to a minimum as far as possible. This also means that we keep our archives only in electronic form, as well as the reuse of rainwater for toilet flushing. This responsibility towards nature is the responsibility of each of our employees and is taken in personal responsibility. Since WZR is a certified company, we are regularly audited to ensure that the regulations that apply to us are adhered to. However, the greatest impact on the environment is the PT-Keramik® developed by us, which helps other companies to save energy in their sintering and firing processes. For the development of PT-Keramik®, we were therefore awarded the Efficiency Prize of the State of NRW.
Here we explicitly deal with the aspects that affect all those who are in direct or indirect contact with the company, i.e. both employees and customers as well as the residents of the direct company environment. Among the measures we take in this respect are the reduction of noise and dust pollution inside and outside the halls.
Since the health of our employees is as important to us as the pollution we cause to local residents, WZR attaches great importance to ensuring that the existing safety regulations are observed in every case. To this end, all safety-relevant tools and objects are thoroughly checked at least once a year and every employee is trained in occupational safety. But not only the safety plays a big role for us, also the satisfaction of our staff is important to us, therefore we offer them with the Monday meeting a medium in which, besides the organizational parts, concerns and suggestions for improvement can be expressed. In addition, we offer our employees the opportunity to spend the breaks together in our lounge and to have one or the other conversation there. Furthermore, due to the WZR's convenient location, we are well connected to public transportation, which makes the use of the job ticket offered by us meaningful and above all time-saving for our employees and, moreover, environmentally friendly.
New processes and products
WZR focuses on sustainability aspects in the processing of technical ceramics
WZR ceramic solutions GmbH is increasingly focusing on aspects of sustainability in the development of new ceramic materials and process optimization.
Rheinbach, January 2014 – Many innovative product developments today make use of the advantages of technical ceramics. However, the raw materials for high-performance ceramics in particular are quite expensive – they sometimes contain rare earth metal oxides – and their production has so far been relatively energy-intensive. “For these reasons, we are increasingly focusing on developing new, sustainable technologies, processes and products,” says Dr. Wolfgang Kollenberg, the founder and owner of WZR.
A major field in which the WZR has been making great progress in terms of sustainability for some time now is the extension of the service life of ceramic refractory linings for high-temperature applications in waste incineration plants, furnace construction, foundry technology and steel production. The selection of materials and optimized lining concepts alone can significantly improve the economy and efficiency of the plants with reduced material usage. "At the same time, the amount of excavated material requiring disposal can be minimized, which makes a valuable contribution to environmental protection," emphasizes Kollenberg.
In the same direction, the application of ceramic coatings increases the wear protection of metallic components. In this area, for example, the thin sol-gel layers of WZR make it possible to achieve significant service life extensions with very little material input. These are oxide ceramic and ceramic-organic coatings with a nanocrystalline structure and thicknesses of about 1 µm, which are applied in WZR, for example, to steel plates to give them increased hardness and extreme scratch resistance.
A particularly innovative field of activity of WZR in terms of sustainability is the realization of energy-saving components for high-temperature applications made of PT-Ceramics®. Such paper engineering ceramics are produced by mixing a ceramic raw material (e.g. Al2O3) into the cellulose mass. Due to the high proportion of inorganic fillers, the paper takes on the properties of a ceramic green body, but can still initially be formed and embossed like normal paper. According to a process patented by WZR, lightweight boards can be produced by joining panels and webs. Alternatively, load-bearing corrugated board structures can be realized by joining several corrugated layers. After thermal treatment and sintering, the result is purely ceramic lightweight structures with extremely low heat capacity and very high rigidity, which are excellently suited as construction elements for high-temperature applications up to 1,600°C. Company boss Kollenberg reports: "Ceramic lightweight structures based on PT-Ceramics® enable, among other things, the production of innovative firing bases with a mass reduced by about 80 percent. As a result, the energy required for firing ceramics can be significantly reduced, the cooling time shortened and productivity increased".
WZR has also established 3D printing as an extremely promising and resource-saving process for the production of lightweight ceramic constructions. With this material-saving additive layer construction process, both highly complex and load-optimized geometries can be realized in technical ceramics, in which material is reduced in the low-stress areas - for example, through bionic pore structures - without impairing the load-bearing capacity of the overall component. With the use of special simulation software, it is possible to optimize the porosity based on an FEM calculation of the stresses that occur under load, thus saving mass. "With no other forming process is the use of material as effective as with 3D printing. Only the material required for the component is consumed, and the powder not bound in the component can be reused. This saves resources," says Wolfgang Kollenberg.
The latest project of the WZR is also resource-saving. It deals with the recycling of production waste from the field of advanced ceramics into the value chain. "Here we are currently analyzing the material flows, recording the waste quantities and working out appropriate utilization concepts for industrial practice," reports Kollenberg.
Improvements in service life, wear protection, lightweight construction, surface technology or recycling concepts - the above-mentioned examples from the work of WZR give an idea of how great the sustainability potential is that lies in the development of new ceramic materials and process engineering optimizations. Company boss Kollenberg sees a large field of activity here: "In the field of technical ceramics, the implementation of noticeable sustainability effects will be a very decisive competitive factor for many companies in the industry in the future".