9. Impact on our customers and society 9.1 Fibre balls to combat micro-pollutants Every year, several thousand tonnes of medicines and over ten tonnes of microplastics enter Germany’s largest river, the Rhine, alone. Conventional wastewater treatment plants cannot cope with such quantities of micro-pollutants. For this reason, the German town of Barntrup in North Rhine-Westphalia added a purification stage for micro-pollutants to its wastewater treatment plant – the only one of its kind in the world with so-called Fuzzy Filters® from Bosman and automated with pneumatics from Festo. The town of Barntrup in North Rhine-Westphalia has elevated levels of phosphorus in its wastewater and relies on innovative pollutant filtration by means of fibre balls. With the filter system used, it is even possible to eliminate 95 per cent of all trace substances as well as clear the wastewater of microplastics and phosphorus. In place of a large clarifier, the much smaller Fuzzy-Filter® system is all that is needed for Festo components to regulate the water flow. With both the standard process and the new technique, activated carbon is mixed into the water in an additional purification stage. With its porous and flaky structure, the activated carbon has a huge inner surface. By comparison, One teaspoon of powdered activated carbon has the same surface area as a football field. This area gives micro-pollutants and trace substances plenty of space to adhere to it. In the Fuzzy Filter® solution, the contaminated water flows through the fibre balls. These are made of synthetic fibres that are made into a ball around 33 millimetres in diameter with the aid of a clip. The dirty water flows through the fibre balls from the bottom to the top. They remove the activated carbon with the micro-pollutants it has absorbed along with the microplastics from the water and the filtered water then flows out of the system from the top. Valves and slides are opened via Festo pneumatic swivel/linear drive units controlled by valve terminals, enabling the automatic inflow of wastewater containing micro-pollutants into and the outflow of the purified water from the Fuzzy-Filter® system. Both the Fuzzy-Filter® balls and the activated carbon can be reused many times. In the backwash cycle, raw water flows into the filter, while an external bellows blows cleaning air into it. The filter balls are set dancing in the turbulent air flow so that dirt particles that have stuck to them are removed and are rinsed out of the filter. The filters are then returned to the aeration tank along with the activated carbon and used for another cleaning process because the activated carbon is only slightly contaminated with pollutants after the first cleaning process. Festo pneumatic swivel/linear drive units are also used when cleaning the Fuzzy-Filter® balls. They let the correct amount of cleaning air into the system and help to remove the sludge. 9. Impact on our customers and society 9.2 Safe production of batteries for electric vehicles The mobility shift is in full swing, and the demand for electric vehicles is increasing faster than expected. While in 2020 the proportion of electrified vehicles (battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) was expected to be around 23 per cent in 2025, this proportion was already increased to 36 per cent last year. The bottleneck is batteries, which are in demand in large quantities at the lowest possible prices. Gigafactories are being built in North America, Europe and Asia to produce batteries for the regional market with a high degree of automation. Economic efficiency and safety are key requirements when manufacturing batteries. Festo supplies industry-specific products and solutions to machine and plant manufacturers, who then equip the production areas in the gigafactories. We offer solutions to ensure sturdy, safe and precise gripping and transportation of battery cells. Festo’s high quality pays off for customers when producing batteries because they are very expensive and the systems run at a high cycle rate and around the clock. A 90 kWh battery pack runs up material and production costs significantly over EUR 5,000. Down-time is costly and therefore timely spare parts delivery and servicing are very important. There are high demands on safety and process stability, as chemical ingredients are handled and the formed batteries are live. Product range and solutions Festo’s pneumatic and electric products are used along the entire process chain for battery cell manufacturing: from products for process automation in raw materials processing, to products for fully automated battery cell production that are free from copper, zinc and nickel and are suitable for dry rooms and clean rooms, right through to assembly systems for installing battery modules in vehicles. Products that are free from copper, zinc and nickel prevent cross-contamination in the sensitive phase of battery cell production. Our products are suitable for pneumatic automation in dry rooms, for example in automated degassing and sealing when forming battery cells, i.e. the first charging and discharging processes of a battery. Unique combination: automation and training from a single source Production plants for batteries and electric vehicles are currently being built around the world at short notice and at a great speed. Festo Didactic offers industry-specific learning concepts in order to train and familiarise the large number of employees very quickly, who often do not have the right training or expertise: from access to the Festo Learning Experience platform for independent study to training factories for hands-on training on the shop floor with perfect knowledge transfer. 80 81 Festo SE & Co. KG Sustainability Report 2021 Festo SE & Co. KG Sustainability Report 2021