Overcoming the challenges of MDI production

14 June 2024

Find out how Lenzing Filtration overcame a challenging application in MDI production using ATEX-certified motors and drives.

Over 270 hazardous chemical incidents – including fires, explosions and harmful chemical releases – occurred in 2023 alone, according to data published by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters. 

In chemical production, the risk of explosions is always present and creates a pressing need for stringent safety measures. Over four decades, the Austrian manufacturer Lenzing Filtration has built a solid reputation for developing high-quality filter devices. The company specialises particularly in automated backflush filtration systems, which are deployed across diverse industrial applications. 

Lenzing Filtration was posed with a challenging application for its filtration system when approached by a Chinese producer of Polymer Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI). MDI is hazardous due to its toxicity, potential for explosions, and chemical reactivity. It also poses health risks through inhalation or skin contact, can create explosive atmospheres, and its reactivity with other substances can lead to hazardous by-products. 

Effective safety measures and proper handling procedures are crucial to mitigate these risks and protect both human health and the environment. In addition, all manufacturing systems involved in the process – including drives, motors and gears – should meet the stringent provisions of the ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU.

Lenzing Filtration’s backwash filters are engineered to filter all kinds of low-viscosity media found in production processes, with seamless precision. However, in the MDI application, propelling these automated systems into action would require robust and ATEX-certified motor and drive systems that were capable of guaranteeing reliability, safety and endurance. 

Lenzing Filtration turned to WEG Gear Systems for a solution. WEG Gear Systems was able to draw on its array of drive solutions, ATEX approved explosionproof motors and drives.

Lenzing Filtration opted for WG20 helical geared motors with flameproof W22Xde ATEX motors, capable of withstanding pressures up to 14.1 bar and temperatures of 80°C. Special Viton shaft seal rings and a corrosive-resistant epoxy resin finish further help ensure durability of the motor. 

For the filters, a WG20 helical bevel gear motor with a torque of 308 Newton meters (Nm) and 1.10 kilowatts (kW) output was employed. Larger filters utilised a more powerful solution with 696 Nm torque and 2.20 kW output. Both setups featured thermal monitoring and complied with ATEX requirements.

The collaboration between Lenzing Filtration and WEG Gear Systems has resulted in a successful project that addresses the demanding challenges posed by supplying systems for hazardous MDI production in China. The solution has also reduced personnel needs and ensured operational efficiency in the Chinese chemical company’s hazardous environments.

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