Flexible power for a perfect finish

By Mike Brezonick25 July 2022

Otto Fuchs cogen system An MWM gas engine generator set is being used in a cogeneration application at the Otto Fuchs Surface Technology facility in Germany. (Photo: Otto Fuchs)

The automotive division of Otto Fuchs KG is perhaps best known for its forged aluminum wheels – better known as the Fuchs wheel – that is widely used by such iconic brands as Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Ferrari.

A market leader in forged aluminum wheels, Otto Fuchs is based in Meinerzhagen in the west of the Sauerland region of Germany. The company has invested about €80 million in a new surface center located in the Grünewald industrial zone. At Otto Fuchs Surface Technology GmbH & Co. KG, the Fuchs wheels get their special finish and the advanced coating plant is connected to a high-bay warehouse and a shipping and logistics center.

The building application for the new plant included the request for permission to set up a cogeneration power plant to generate electricity onsite. The company decided on a cogen system from Caterpillar Energy Solutions based on an MWM TCG 2020 gas engine generator set. The set combines MWM’s TCG 2020 engine, a 12-cylinder, vee configured engine with bore and stroke dimensions of 170 x 195 mm and an overall displacement of 53.1 L, with a Marelli MJB 450 LB4 three-phase, four-pole alternator. The gen-set, incorporating a TEM controller, delivers 999 kW at 50 Hz, which is about 50% of the power required at the facility.

The system also provides 1101 kW of thermal energy at a total system efficiency of 88.3%, MWM said.

“Since 2015, we already have a cogeneration power plant with an MWM TCG 2032 V16 genset in the main Otto Fuchs factory,” said Paul J. Plikat, head of the Grünewald energy industry project who was involved in the planning of the new power plant. “All our experiences with this model have been positive, both with regard to the performance and reliability of the engine and in terms of the good collaboration with the manufacturer and the MWM Service.

“For us, these were good reasons to opt for another MWM gas engine for the new cogeneration power plant.”

Adapting power to factory shifts

The power-controlled MWM gas gen-set runs in flex operation, adapted to the factory’s shifts. “In this way, we can effectively control the power generation in accordance with the demand in the factory,” said Vladimir Giebert, project engineer Supply, Factory Planning and Maintenance at Otto Fuchs. Giebert added that especially during the cold season, the exhaust heat from the engine is used in its entirety. Apart from heating the factory, many surface coating processes also depend on heat, such as the pre-treatment or special washing systems.

For the cogeneration power plant in the Grünewald factory, the planning and rollout of the energy supply was handled by the company itself and the system was fully installed and commissioned in the spring.

“During the planning and rollout stages, the challenge was to seamlessly involve a dozen suppliers in the face of a relatively tight time schedule.” said Giebert. “As expected, the collaboration was very pleasant and professional. Minor initial difficulties were quickly resolved in a competent manner by the MWM Service (team) in collaboration with our maintenance personnel.

“Apart from the good collaboration with Caterpillar Energy Solutions, our team members also played their part in ensuring that the project was successfully completed within a short period of time.”

Interestingly, the cogeneration power plant is not the only heat generator at Otto Fuchs Surface Technology in Grünewald. A natural gas boiler and the heat recovery system of the compressed-air supply are hydraulically connected to the cogeneration power plant. Each individual heat generator is controlled by a central control that is also connected to the gen-set’s TEM control. One of the challenges encountered during the installation, was to ensure the efficient networking of these various components. After some minor initial glitches, everything is now on track, and the annual usage amounts to more than 70%, the company said.

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