Mifa AG: New power plant

The power plant is the heart of any production plant. Everything grinds to a halt without a power supply. Recently, the new power plant at Frenkendorf has been put into operation commissioned. It reduces the factory’s gas consumption and CO2 emissions by 60%, water consumption by 70% and electricity consumption by 20%.

  • Excavation of the construction pit for the new building and assembling the new, almost 32m high chimney

  • In the background, the expansion system and distributor pumps for the 110°C hot-water system. In the foreground, the heat exchangers for waste heat recovery.

  • Thanks to the two hybrid ammonia condensers on the roof, water is only needed for cooling in summer. In cool weather conditions, they operate dry.

  • The new hot-water boilers Melchior Jr. and Kaspar Jr., each with an output of 2000 kW. The one on the left is only heated with gas and has two economisers for heat recovery; the one on the right can be operated with gas and oil and has one economiser.

  • Cold production with the ammonia compressors. On the right, the three compressors for a temperature of -29°C and, on the left, the two for ice-water production at 2°C. In the foreground on the left, the heat pump for heat recovery.

  • The new power plant is based on a modular design and uses much less energy thanks to cutting-edge technology and integrated heat recovery.

Nothing happens in a manufacturing company without power. This is why Mifa AG has its own power plant. Dieter Reichenstein, Engineering project manager, explains its importance: “The power plant is the heart of the factory, it supplies heat, water for cooling and coolants for production processes throughout the factory. Everyone might as well go home when it stops working.”

The nicknames for the old power plant’s two steam turbines, which served until 2017, are Kaspar and Melchior. Not only are these names remarkable, but also the turbines’ age: they had been reliably providing the whole factory with heat and cold since 1962. 55 years of loyal service is also sustainability: “the old ammonia compressors were the best that were built in those days”, enthuses Reichenstein.

After 50 years in operation, the plant’s two boilers and six ammonia compressors have reached their limits. Stefan Madörin, Head of Technical Services, states: “The risk of breakdowns increased with age and it became harder to source spare parts. Nowadays we’ve also come a lot further ecologically. The old plant used too much energy and water. The build of the new power plant was the single biggest project since Mifa AG moved to the Frenkendorf site. That is not happening every day, I’m proud to play a part in this investment.”

A project on this scale entailed considerable planning. The preparations were underway since 2012. The Mifa AG team received assistance from MES - Migros Engineering Solutions, the Migros competence centre for efficient global supply chain, process management, technology, environmental and energy solutions. “The exchange of knowledge and experience with our MES colleagues has been of great value to both sides”, according to Madörin. “This project was like a heart bypass operation. Production had to continue whilst we built. And we wanted to achieve the maximum environmental protection.”

The new power plant is based on a modular design and uses much less energy thanks to cutting-edge technology and integrated heat recovery. It can target refrigeration as required and much more accurately, for example. Heat is buffered, heat loss from the power plant and manufacturing processes is recovered and fed into the company’s own heating network by heat pumps. At the same time all the manufacturing processes have been modified, so that they operate at lower temperatures and thus use less heat energy. All in all, the ecological benefits are considerable:

This is why Mifa AG has been exempted from paying Swiss CO2 tax. Fredy Kühnis, Mifa AG’s Environmental Officer, adds: “We are also contributing to M Industry’s sustainability strategy and Migros’ climate and energy strategy.

Will the new plant last 55 years? Dieter Reichenstein is non-committal: “Our new power plant is premium Swiss quality, but life is faster paced nowadays. One thing is certain - the new plant is much more sparing with resources, which is good for the environment and simultaneously significantly cuts operating costs. We are investing around CHF 11 million here and despite these high costs this investment will pay for itself in a short time, thanks to the high efficiency gains.”

Sustainability facts about Mifa AG’s new power plant:

  • The new power plant costs approx. CHF 11 million.
  • The main advantages are a more secure supply, reserves for growth and big increases in efficiency, which benefit the environment in particular.
  • The new plant reduces gas consumption and CO2 emissions by 60%, electricity consumption by 20% and water consumption by 70%.
  • The Mibelle Group is also contributing to Migros’ climate and energy strategy: Total electricity consumption is to be reduced by 10% and CO2 emissions by 20% between 2010 and 2020.
  • It also backs up parent company M Industry’s long-term vision: M Industry’s total electricity consumption is to be reduced by 25% by 2040.

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