Freelance was used in Grillo-Werke AG’s recently expanded dimethyl ether production plant. Working on the automation for this sensitive project was Gesat GmbH, a systems integrator and partner of ABB.
Since end 2012, the chemicals company Grillo-Werke AG located in ‘Industriepark Hoechst’ has been concentrating on the in-house production of dimethyl ether (DME). According to Grillo, the expanded plant is the most modern and energy-efficient DME production plant in Europe. In close coordination with ABB at the site, Gesat has updated Freelance to version 9.2 with redundant controllers AC 800F and Profibus. The supply also included additional licenses and numerous redundancy–link-modules RLM 01, in order to make the profibus PA consistently redundant. Moreover, around 100 out of total 500 process automation devices being installed by Gesat are from ABB, amongst them TTH300 and TTF300 temperature sensors, S2XX-HN1S membrane pressure sensors and Triowirl flow-meters.
DME serves as raw substance for the production of dimethyl sulfate (DMS), which is used for the production of bio-degradable fabric softener or colorants. Since taking over of operations in 2007, Grillo has been producing DMS in Frankfurt, with until now externally produced DME. This reverse integration strengthens Grillo’s leading market position.
Long standing partnership
“Our client had clear requirements for the automation of the plant. It had to be cost-effective, highly reliable, very safe, easy to handle and sustainable. Moreover, the implementation should come from one-stop provider”, explains Markus Michel, project director with Gesat. Freelance was selected because it is already used by Grillo in other production lines managed by Gesat with excellent results. For the past 20 years, Gesat has been working with ABB control systems and provides its clients comprehensive support as a systems integrator, from initial consultation to launch of operation as well as after-sales.
The on-site experience and the minimal labor input required for installation, familiarization and engineering of Freelance facilitated the smooth launch of operations – despite non-ordinary automation and process control. “Due to the highly flammable properties of the substance, this product is very dangerous”, describes Michel. In addition, the works in the DME-plant were carried out during on-going operation. The implementation enabled Gesat and ABB to enlarge the installed base and “to prove again that Freelance is suitable for large plants”, says Michel.
Dimethyl ether (DME) is mainly used in the production of aerosol for cosmetics and paints, as its physical properties are similar to those of liquid gas and it is easier to transport and store. Therefore, it is considered to be a potential alternative to liquid gas or diesel fuel for vehicles as well as for the use in heating boilers. In the combustion of DME, there are neither sulphur oxides nor soot. The gas is produced with methanol, natural gas or coal.