ACHEMA 2009, the 29th international exhibition-congress on chemical engineering, environmental protection and biotechnology, attracted a record number of international visitors, and generated much optimism, despite the tough economic climate.

The five-day event, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in May, played host to over 173,000 visitors, who were treated to an impressive display of the latest products and technologies, showcased by 3,767 exhibitors.

The 134,000m2 area was filled with companies, institutes and research institutions displaying their cutting-edge developments over a broad spectrum of product lines.

An impressive display of pumps, compressors, valves and fittings adorned the stands of companies like EBARA Pumps Europe (Brendola), WITT Gasetechnik (Witten), Flowserve Flow Control (Ettlingen), Oerlikon Barmag (Remscheid), Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum (Köln), Shipham Valves (Hull), Sulzer Pumpen (Bruchsal and Winterthur), and Swagelok (Solon).

Leading valve manufacturer Herose (Bad Oldesloe) was also present at the event; among the its range of innovations was the recently completed Type 01541 Cryogenic Shut-off Valve, a development of its predecessor, the 01341.

Laboratory and Analytical Techniques were also well presented. The Gas-Arc Group (Diss) exhibited its full range of Chem-Master and Spec-Master speciality gas and high purity gas control products. ACCULAB Europe, ChemPur (Karlsruhe), Showa Denko Europe (München), and Taylor Wharton Germany (Mildstedt), also exhibited under this label, among many others.

Other product lines covered included Mechanical Processes, with companies such as BEKAERT (Zwevegem) and Parker Hannifin (Barnstaple) displaying their innovative solutions; Thermal Processes, represented by specialists in the field, like Sulzer Chemtech (Winterthur) and Fabtech Technologies (Andheri); and Industrial and Labour Safety, with companies like Honeywell Analytics (Uster) exhibiting.

The Tier 1 industrial gas companies were out in force, The Linde Group had three separate stands – one for engineering, one for its gases division (both Pullach), and one for Linde KCA (Dresden). Air Liquide (Mame la Vallée) exhibited in the Laboratory and Analytical Techniques section, as did Messer Welding & Cutting, a division of Messer.

Lurgi (Frankfurt) has presented itself a total of 24 times at ACHEMA, but this year made its debut as a company of Air Liquide. Its stand was designed with a futuristic look, and the company presented itself as a provider of innovative solutions, which is at the same time continuously committed to research and development.

“For Lurgi as a technology-oriented plant engineering and contracting company operating worldwide, ACHEMA in Frankfurt is the leading trade show,” said François Venet, CEO of Lurgi GmbH.

“It offers an ideal platform for presenting the complete range of our technology portfolio to a top-level international audience. In the present context, it is key for Lurgi to present itself as a strong and innovative player in converting carbon energy resources in clean products.”

This was the most international ACHEMA event yet, with 46.6% of the exhibitors and 28% of the visitors attending from outside of Germany.

Dr Gerhard Kreysa, Chief Executive of DECHEMA e.V., which organises ACHEMA said, “The high number of exhibitors and visitors sent out an unmistakable message that will resound far beyond the ACHEMA: our branches are going to tackle the challenges and leave the economic crisis behind them.”

This year’s overriding theme was process efficiency - the efficient use of energy and raw materials. Biotechnological processes and the application of renewable resources were also key topics.

Pharmaceutical, Packaging and Storage Techniques; Instrumentation, Control and Automation Techniques, and Engineering were also covered under this theme, with companies like M. Braun Inertgas-Systeme (Garching), Sierra Instruments (Monterey), Aeroflex Industries (Mumbai), AirTree Ozone Technology (Sijhih City), Aspentech (Reading), G&G International (Willebroek), Uhde (Dortmund), and CALORIC Anlagenbau (Gräfelfing), among others, displaying their product ranges.

Many exhibitors displayed novel microstructured components, while nanotechnology and ionic fluids played a prominent role in the Congress programme.

The ACHEMA Congress was well attended; the 900 lectures attracted scientists and developers eager to discuss the latest market-ready research results.

In the first two days, attendance figures were up by 1% compared to 2006 (the last ACHEMA), and the high level of exhibitors had been maintained.

“This shows that our branches are unfazed by the crisis; we are banking on innovations and looking ahead,” said Dr Kurt Wagemann, Deputy Chief Executive of DECHEMA e.V.