Team 1

Less acetone, more help for the environment!

Project Update

Team 1: “Given that our production team had already celebrated major successes in reducing their use of the solvent acetone, as a group we thought we could do the same in engineering and the lab. Our goal was to use our acetone more efficiently and also reduce its use in a way that would be worthwhile for the company and which would possibly also reduce costs. Unfortunately, our project was not successful. We carried out some tests; however, a lot of work has already been done on this topic. The differences before and after our tests were not particularly big.”

Which aspects of your topic have already been implemented within the company?
Production has already managed to significantly reduce its consumption and has achieved a lot. It’s a different story in the lab. The smaller quantities used there mean that we have to rely on purer raw materials. Which means that acetone will still be needed.

What are the reasons for the status quo?
A lot of work has already been done in this area. Various alternatives have been tested; the same resources that are used in production were examined, but unfortunately there is currently no way around acetone.

What was your highlight?
The major highlights of our project were probably the experiments in the lab. It was a change from our normal routine and really fun with our group, although we couldn’t do much in terms of reaching our goal.

What was your biggest hurdle?
It was difficult to design experiments that had never been done before. IGP has already tried many things in this area and has been able to make a few changes. Furthermore, our tests didn’t reveal any major differences.

What would you do differently next time?
The aspect that definitely stood out for us was our dialog with the specialists. In our opinion, we should have had more frequent conversations with those responsible. Perhaps this could also have enabled us to save time by avoiding experiments whose results were already known.

What have you learned? What will you take away from this experience?
During the project, we learned a lot about the solvent acetone. We became familiar with certain properties of this agent. We were also able to improve our skills in terms of developing a larger project. We were never under time pressure and generally planned everything very well.

Our results at a glance …

Since the last project day and the interim presentations, our team has continued working on our ideas and begun carrying out practical experiments in the lab. The aim of these experiments was to find a new way to efficiently clean our machines using little or no acetone. We had various ideas for solutions to this. Unfortunately, we had some trouble with our idea, but we have now gathered a lot of information and are back on track. The first tests have been carried out; some unsuccessful, some successful. This has enabled us to rule out some of our ideas and we are now making progress. Our next goal will be to find out if it is possible to mix the acetone with water. This will ensure fairly rapid evaporation. We are considering trying the whole process with just the mill for now, as the extruder is heated to 100°C.

When we came into the meeting room, we didn’t really know what to expect from the kickoff day. But as soon as they started, Mischa and Dominik made sure we were all on the same page. They came over as very likeable and you could tell that they care about this issue and want to teach us about it.

Team 1 has set itself the goal of improving IGP’s solvent-free status by significantly reducing the use of acetone in the lab. Acetone is currently used for efficient and effective cleaning of machinery and equipment. IGP has already made progress in this area, having reduced our acetone consumption by more than half over the last five years. In the past, these measures mainly focused on production, which is why the team now plans to focus on the lab, where they have identified additional potential for using less acetone.

What do the Company Challenge and combating climate change mean to you?

“We can’t just pass the buck when it comes to environmental issues. I think it’s great and also important that every one of us can contribute to combating climate change. We make sure we don’t waste heat energy, we turn off lights; I use public transport and cycle a lot. The issue is important to me, it’s about our future as young people.”

“Before now, I hadn’t really looked into this issue. So I think it’s good that we now want to come up with ideas about what we can do better every day, in our private lives and in our company to increase awareness and act with more responsibility for climate protection.”

“Sustainability is an issue in the workplace when it comes to waste separation on the shop floor and material separation. I’ve already learned a lot during the kickoff day; I was struck by how much CO2 we emit and the impact of just 1°C of global warming.”