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Environmental & climate protection

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Environmental & climate protection 2021

Environmental & climate protection

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Environmental and climate protection

Messer is committed to protecting the environment. As an energy-intensive company we have a particular responsibility to help ensure that our energy use is sustainable.

Our core products, the air gases, are produced by air separation. Air is a mixture of gases, consisting primarily of nitrogen (78 %), oxygen (21 %) and the inert gas argon (0.9 %). The remaining 0.1 % is made up mostly of carbon dioxide and the inert gases neon, helium, krypton and xenon.

Air is typically separated into its components by means of distillation in air separation plants employing cryogenic rectification. This process is fully electrified, so our energy requirements are substantial for electricity. We monitor carefully the specific electricity consumption of the production process and the emissions intensity of the electricity we purchase. The decomposition of ambient air into its constituent parts produces no toxic or environmentally harmful emissions itself, even in the case of a shutdown or disruption to operations.

Messer supplies “Gases for Life” to customers typically by means of on site production at customers’ sites, by pipeline, in bulk form as cryogenic liquids, or in high-pressure cylinders (‘packaged’ products). However, it is to be noted that the business mix by product, customer sector, and delivery mode varies greatly by geography.

The delivery of bulk or packaged gases entails the use of heavy-goods vehicles. We monitor carefully the fuel consumption of our vehicles and the efficiency of our logistics in order to minimize resulting emissions. We are also considering the future use of alternative fuels, when and where these will be permitted for hazardous goods.

Packaged products are gases held under high pressure in gaseous or liquid form in steel cylinders. Such cylinders are generally provided on a rental basis to our customers and recovered after use. After cleaning and inspection, gas cylinders are refilled and resupplied to customers. Gas cylinders can remain in circulation for over 30 years.

Greenhouse gas emissions

In accordance with the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol, for calculation purposes we classify greenhouse gases into three categories: direct emissions (Scope 1), indirect emissions from procured energy (Scope 2), and other indirect emissions in the upstream and downstream supply chain (Scope 3), measuring the emissions in terms of CO2 equivalents (CO2e).

For 2021, the following changes apply to the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions: 

  • Dual calculation approach for Scope 2, presenting both the location-based method as previously used and a new, market-based method.
  • Extension of the scope of calculation for Scope 3, including additional categories recommended by a joint working group comprising industrial gases companies and industrial gases associations. 

In the financial year 2021 the total greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly as a result of Messer’s activities in production and logistics worldwide, i.e. Scopes 1 & 2, stood at 5.46 million metric tons of CO2e. That was 680,000 metric tons more than in the previous year, when the combined value was 4.78 million metric tons of CO2e. This 14.2 percent increase is primarily attributable to two factors: First, our sales growth of 12.9 percent, and second, the less favorable CO2 factor for energy in Asia due to the lower quality electricity mix caused by the electricity shortage.

The CO2 emissions intensity of Messer’s worldwide activities (Scopes 1&2), measured as the ratio CO2e per Euro of sales, stood at 1.55 CO2e/€ in 2021, slightly above the combined value of 1.53 CO2e/€ measured for 2020.

Accordion Greenhouse gas emissions

UN Goals Environment & climate protection

  • UN Goal 1 - No poverty
  • UN Goal 2 - Zero hunger
  • UN Goal 3 - Good health and well-being
  • UN Goal 4 - Quality education
  • UN Goal - Gender equality
  • UN Goal - Clean water and sanitation
  • UN Goal - Affordable and clean energy
  • UN Goal 8 - Decent work and economic growth
  • UN Goal 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • UN Goal 10 - Reduced inequalities
  • UN Goal - Sustainable cities and communities
  • UN Goal - Responsible consumption and production
  • UN Goal - Climate action
  • UN Goal - Life below water
  • UN Goal - Life on land
  • UN Goal 16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • UN Goal 17 - Partnerships for the goals

Energy efficiency

Messer focuses on the responsible use of all resources, especially energy. The specific energy consumption of all processes is a key performance indicator. Actions are undertaken each year across all Group companies aimed at achieving ever higher energy efficiency.

For example:

Accordion energy efficiency

Energy efficiency 2021

The specific energy consumption of our air separation units is a particularly important topic, since these dominate our demand for electricity. To that end, we are working to improve the utilization of the existing units, continuously investing, and focusing on projects that sustainably increase energy efficiency. These activities are the responsibility of the Global Energy Officer (GEO) of the Messer organization.

The efficiency improvement measures in production operations in 2021 included:

  • Replacement of obsolete, inefficient equipment by modern technology
  • Installation of on site units to eliminate the need for liquefied gas deliveries by truck
  • Implementation of Aspen DMC advanced process control software.

 
We document the energy efficiency of our production operations with an energy coefficient, which indicates how much electricity a production unit consumed per metric ton of product it produced as compared with a theoretical “reference unit.” Relative to the reference year, the measured energy coefficient at Messer in the financial year 2021 worldwide stood at 101.1. In the previous year, this was 99.9. The decrease in energy efficiency is attributable to a strong demand for oxygen, especially medical oxygen, which prevented most units from being operated in their optimal operating range as intended. 

Water consumption

Most of the water that we consume is used to cool the compressors in our air separation units. In 2021, our Group-wide water consumption was 17.5 million cubic meters, which represents an increase of 900,000 cubic meters over financial year 2020. This 5.4-percent increase is attributable to the increase in production in 2021.

Our main manufacturing processes – air separation, CO2 purification and liquefaction – need no water within the actual production process streams. But they do generate a great deal of heat, mainly during the compression of gases. To carry that heat away, most units have an open cooling water circuit: the cooling water absorbs heat from the respective sources and discharges it to the atmosphere in an open cooling tower. There, part of the circulating water evaporates and another part is removed to prevent insoluble components from thickening. Fresh water must be fed back into the system to replace the water that is evaporated and/or removed. This results in the only direct water consumption of our manufacturing processes. The quantity of make-up water added is directly dependent on a unit’s electricity consumption. It averages about two to three cubic meters per hour per megawatt of electrical power.

 

Non-toxic and hazardous waste

In 2021, the total quantity of waste for Messer including its Western European companies was 29,155 metric tons. Of that figure, 15,484 metric tons were non-toxic waste and 13,671 metric tons were hazardous waste. These figures do not include data for Messer companies in North and South America. 

Energy & quality management

Our commitment to environmental protection is also reflected in our worldwide Quality Management System. In 2021, 61 consolidated companies were certified according to ISO 14001 or Responsible Care Management System (RCMS); that was two more than in the previous year. ISO 14001 is an internationally recognized standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It defines requirements designed to help organizations establish, implement, maintain and continuously improve their environmental management systems. RCMS certification serves the comparable purpose and function for our American production sites.

Customer service

We act sustainably to meet our customers’ needs, which include the reduction of their own carbon footprint. We achieve this through the impact of our gas applications on their production processes, through an efficient supply of gases – via on site units, for example – and through the use of emission-free or low-carbon products such as green hydrogen. 

In customers’ industrial processes, our “Gases for Life” provide for greater safety, efficiency, quality, capacity and environmental compatibility and / or reduce the associated emissions and costs. To fully realize these potentials, we work closely with our customers, supply application engineering equipment and expertise, and help design and optimize processes. In addition, we provide our customers with process development support. 

Messer, including its Western European companies, signed more new bulk contracts than in the previous year: In 2021, 31.1 percent of new contracts with explicitly positive overall effect on the environment were signed; in the 2020 financial year, that figure was 29.7 percent. 

The increased number of new contracts based on applications with positive effects on the environment include, among other things:

  • Increase in applications and installations with oxyfuel in Europe, especially in the non-ferrous and glass segments 
  • Continued implementation of cryocondensation units
  • Further development of oxyfuel and hydrogen-oxygen combustion technology, both in the company’s own competence center and through sponsored R&D projects

Examples of gas applications with a positive environmental impact realized in 2021 include:

Accordion Customer service

Customer service II

In addition, the installation of on site units that produce industrial gases eliminated the need for some bulk deliveries, thereby reducing emissions by 4,800 metric tons of CO2e in the financial year 2021. That represents an additional 14-percent reduction relative to 2020 – despite growth that was observed in the context of increasingly dynamic activity overall.

In 2021, Messer further intensified its commitment to clean hydrogen: A cooperation agreement was signed with Siemens Energy to collaborate on green hydrogen projects in the 5-to-50-megawatt range for industrial and mobility applications. Messer in Spain has already applied to the Spanish government for funding for three such green hydrogen projects in the chemical complex in Tarragona. 

Together with Toyota Tsusho, Messer is offering the “One-Stop Shop” to bus operators. The concept bundles all the products and services required to operate hydrogen-powered, fuel cell electric bus fleets. 

Messer is part of the joint venture “HyDN” in the district of Düren, Germany, where a new production facility for green hydrogen is being installed. Messer’s expertise in the efficient operation of gas production facilities and refueling infrastructure will help ensure the effective operation of fleets of fuel cell electric buses and trains.

In Spain Messer participated in a conference in Reus on hydrogen and sustainable mobility organized by the Chair for the Promotion of Business Innovation, the URV Foundation (University of Rovira i Virgili), and Hydrogen Valley of Catalonia. Companies such as Repsol, Enagas, Messer Ibérica and Technip explained their commitment to the development of the value chain for green hydrogen. Jordi Soler, head of hydrogen business development for Messer in Spain, presented the company’s activities in the sustainable mobility area and emphasized the importance of the hydrogen value chain as an energy vector. 

In the USA, Messer Industries has substantial experience in hydrogen for vehicle refueling applications. At a car manufacturing plant in Greer, South Carolina, Messer supplies the technology and the hydrogen for one of the largest fleets of forklift trucks and other industrial handling equipment in the USA. In 2021 the facility installed by Messer was extended and the service and hydrogen supply contracts were successfully renewed.

 

Initiatives and Awards