PETnology Handbook 2024

(Photo credit: Krones)

Block Technology

Krones: Quantum leap in block technology

Part 1 of this article provided a brief overview of the factors influencing block technology (see comPETence magazine TWO:2022). It outlined the issues of sustainability, consumer behaviour and population growth. In Part 2, we explore how current challenges are affecting PET as a beverage packaging material and present details of the first Krones ErgoBloc which broke through the magic barrier of 100,000 containers per hour.

Piovan April


Maximised performance and sustainability – a contradiction?

In 2021, the European Union set a legally binding target for eliminating net emissions – i.e. becoming climate-neutral, by 2050. 2030 was set as a milestone because the intention is to have cut emissions by 55 per cent by then. The specifications are called the “New Green Deal“ and are included in the “Fit for 55” package.

These specifications have an impact on society as a whole – and thus on companies from the beverage industry as well because the framework conditions specified in the package include a closed plastics cycle and of course a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Bearing that in mind, is a block which produces 100,000 PET bottles per hour sustainable at all? Is it compatible with current efforts? That is easily answered because what counts in the end are substantiated figures.

When compared to a 72,000-bph block built in 2015, the high-speed block provides substantial energy savings even though its output is significantly higher. Technical upgrades in the heating tunnel, for example, reduce energy consumption by more than ten per cent. And compressed-air recycling in the stretch blow-moulding process cuts the energy required by 15 per cent. In combination with other improvements, that yields energy savings of over 16 per cent.

As a result, the TCO is up and Scope-2 emissions are down, thereby helping beverage producers to comply with EU specifications.


Lightweighting and the use of rPET save thousands of tons of CO2

Lightweighting optimisations also help to meet the targets. They enabled the Niagara water bottler, for example, to save about four per cent in bottle weight, entirely without reducing production performance. There is a substantiated figure for this, too: Thanks to lightweighting, it was possible to save a total of 720 tons of CO2 per year in the line, which also cut costs since less material was needed.

However, the use of rPET still offers the biggest opportunity to save CO2. If 100 per cent recyclate is used on the 100,000-bph ErgoBloc, up to 3,600 tons of CO2 per year can be saved. This is precisely why it is necessary to establish a closed plastics cycle (as specified by the EU) at the global level.

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