Industriepark Höchst Combines Tradition and Future
Infraserv Höchst is at the Forefront of Sustainable, Innovative Site Development
- The Industriepark Höchst – located at Frankfurt am Main, Germany – is one of Europe’s largest research and production sites for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. © Infraserv Höchst
- The use of augmented reality head-mounted displays (HMDs) optimizes scheduled maintenance and improves documentation quality. © Infraserv Höchst
- >: Infraserv Höchst’s energy generation plants have much higher energy efficiencies – over 90% – than conventional coal-fired power plants. © Infraserv Höchst
- Michael Müller, Infraserv Höchst© Infraserv Höchst
If you drive into Frankfurt from the west, the towering smokestacks of Industriepark Höchst will spring into view long before the bank skyscrapers in the city’s downtown. This 4.6 km2 industrial estate is one of Europe’s largest research and production sites for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry and has a storied history.
Industriepark Höchst’s future is promising, too: Year after year, its roughly 90 tenants, who employ around 22,000 people, sink large sums into research facilities, production plants and infrastructure: Since 2000, they have invested more than € 7.7 billion. One of the latest big projects aims to upgrade the site’s energy generation infrastructure and shrink its environmental footprint: Infraserv Höchst, the operator of the industrial park, intends to phase out coal as a fuel by 2022. By modernizing its gas turbine plant and commissioning two new gas turbines, it will improve the already remarkable efficiency of its energy generation infrastructure and reduce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.
Infraserv Höchst is investing a nine-digit sum not only in energy production, but in sustainability as well. The gas turbine units will use natural gas to produce steam from waste heat and generate an additional 170 MW of electric power, or roughly 60% more electricity than before — electricity that can be supplied to the companies at the park or exported to the public grid in order to offset voltage fluctuations, thus improving the stability of the region’s power supply.
Focus on Energy Efficiency
Energy and resource conservation are in the site operator’s DNA. Infraserv Höchst, who supplies the companies at Industriepark Höchst with eight grades of water, fluids and raw materials, also provides safe, environmentally responsible waste disposal, facility management solutions, logistics support and services in environmental, health, safety and many other fields. Provadis, Hesse’s largest private training company with its own university, is part of the Infraserv Höchst Group, as is Infraserv Höchst Prozesstechnik.
Energy efficiency has deep roots at Industriepark Höchst.
Chemical companies have long harnessed cogeneration to meet their high demand for heat in the form of process steam. No wonder Infraserv Höchst’s energy generation plants have much higher
energy efficiencies — over 90% — than conventional coal-fired power plants that only produce electricity and reject their waste heat to the atmosphere. Cogeneration alone slashes CO2 emissions by around 300,000 metric tons a year; in other words, conventional coal-fired power plants would emit that much greenhouse gas if they were to produce the same amount of energy. In addition, the consistent use of waste heat from production plants and incinerators cuts another 200,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions every single year.
Phasing out coal is another big step toward a healthier environment. Around 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions can be eliminated each year by switching to cleaner natural gas and making energy-generating units even more efficient.
Industriepark Höchst is home to cutting-edge energy solutions. Hydrogen is a prime example: A chlorine production plant at the park generates vast quantities of hydrogen as a byproduct, making the site an ideal location to house supply infrastructure for clean fuel cell technology. Infraserv Höchst’s involvement in hydrogen began over 10 years ago, when it participated in pilot projects for an EU initiative to develop fuel cell-powered vehicles. It even opened the first public hydrogen fueling station for fuel cell vehicles in the southern sector of the park.
The time has come for the next milestone in the evolution of hydrogen as a transportation fuel: Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund, the public transit authority for the Rhine-Main Region, has decided to purchase 27 fuel cell-powered locomotives to travel on non-electrified tracks in the area. These ecofriendly trains will need a new fueling station — which will be built at Industriepark Höchst. The park, filled with innovative companies who combat disease or world hunger with new medicines, high-performance plastics or innovations in crop protection, is thus helping to tackle urgent challenges around energy use as well.
Speaking of innovation: Infraserv Höchst also pushes the digitalization envelope. It has developed and built a wide array of cutting-edge solutions. For example, many facility surveys, maintenance calls and inspections are handled digitally using an app and a cloud system. That simplifies workflows and gives customers transparent access to the data in real time. The approach speeds up maintenance calls by roughly 40%. In addition to documenting work with a smartphone or tablet, Infraserv employees often put on augmented reality head-mounted displays (HMDs). There are several benefits to these systems: They can be operated hands-free with the voice control system; the environment is automatically documented; and required follow-up work can be discussed with the client immediately. That optimizes scheduled maintenance and improves documentation quality since it eliminates the need to re-enter data in a different system.
Seamless Logistic Connection
Another key success factor of Industriepark Höchst is logistics: Situated in the heart of the Rhine-Main Region, the site is easy to reach with excellent access to the German highway system. 57 km of tracks connect to the public German railroad network, and the site’s dedicated port allows customers to replace truck transports with more ecofriendly barges. The port is trimodal with two large gantry cranes, too, and so seamlessly connects roadways, railways and waterways. And for all the multinational corporations at Industriepark Höchst, its close proximity to Frankfurt Airport is another locational advantage — the continent’s biggest air hub is located only a few kilometers away.