Knauf Puts ”Less Wet” Into Greener Drywall

Knauf Puts ”Less Wet” Into Greener Drywall

Drywall systems manufacturer Knauf Drywall has climbed another rung on the sustainability ladder with plasterboard process improvements that significantly reduce water and energy requirements. Already one of the fastest and most energy efficient plasterboard lines in Europe, Knauf Drywall’s Immingham factory has reduced the “excess” water content of its board by about 12.5%, with proportionate savings in gas needed to dry it before finishing.

The amount of water that has to be evaporated from Standard Wallboard in the dryer at Immingham is significantly down, says Process Support Manager Richard Besson. “When production is at full speed, this is a reduction of 100 tons of water a day. As a result, we are seeing lower gas bills and a further improvement in our carbon footprint. The lower dryer temperatures have also reduced other input costs.”

The process improvements have also produced similar benefits in high performance plasterboard products manufactured at Immingham, while ensuring continued high quality. “The finished products are all exactly the same as before – we’ve simply needed less water to make them and less energy to dry them,” says Richard Besson. “We are now looking at further opportunities for improving efficiency and environmental performance.”

He says the savings so far have been achieved through commitment of the production teams together with improved quality and preparation of the raw material, allowing significantly reduced water content in the slurry forming the core of the plasterboard. “The slurry still has to be sufficiently wet for the reaction that causes it to set, but not before it leaves the mixer. It also needs to be wet to bond with the front and rear face papers – and to spread easily over the entire board area throughout the production run, minimising waste.”

Knauf Drywall’s latest achievement significantly enhances its green credentials. Much of its raw material is FGD gypsum, a recycled by-product of coal fired power stations. This is supplemented by further recycled material from production waste and clean building waste. The paper liners are made from fully recycled fibres. Earlier in 2009 Knauf Drywall gained ISO 14001 certification for environmental management as part of an ongoing drive for excellence throughout its business. The award endorses environmental management policies and practices at its UK factories – including energy efficient low-emission, low-waste manufacturing and extensive recycling – and gives customers the assurance that the company’s comprehensive range reflects the highest standards of sustainability.

Knauf Drywall manufactures a full range of plasters, plasterboards, insulating laminates, dry flooring, drywall accessories, and metal sections for domestic, commercial and public sector applications. Knauf Drywall pioneered carbon neutral plasterboard in the UK with Knauf Futurepanel. Knauf Drywall also actively promotes recycling from building sites and has a zero waste policy in its energy efficient factories at Sittingbourne in Kent and Immingham on Humberside.

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