Following a string of mega investments, Ijsfabriek Strombeek has financed almost €10m ($11.2m) worth of projects in a bid to completely overhaul its operations.

Under one such investment, the carbon dioxide (CO2) producer is working towards opening a new CO2 plant in Ghent, Belgium, as part of a joint venture (JV) with Messer Belgium.

The JV, named ‘BECO2’ is split into a 30/70 divide for Strombeek and Messer Belgium, respectively. Overall, the JV accounts for 50% of both investment and ownership of the GreenCO2 project – which is responsible for the construction of the new facility in Ghent.

We want to generate approximately 50% of our revenue in production capacity from plants that we have complete control over – and now we are easily meeting that requirement

Strombeek’s independent investment in the new site totals €2.25m ($2.5m) and will see the Belgium-based enterprise receive a 15% share, with the overall project costing €15m ($16.8m). The new plant will produce around 13 tonnes of CO2 per hour, with a total capacity of around 100,000 tonnes per year.

The plant is due to come on-stream in the coming weeks, with fellow partner company, Alco Bio Fuel (ABF), securing the other 50% of the project. The GreenCO2 project will deliver CO2 from natural fermentation processes.

According to Strombeek’s CEO, Dieter Soens, the plant is “well positioned and centralised” to serve the immediate market in Belgium, with the project maturing over time and eventually expanding further into European territories. “It will give us a fresh boost in the CO2 market,” Soens explained.

The facility will utilise a state-of-the-art CO2 production unit manufactured by Switzerland-based business and Messer subsidiary, ASCO.

Total revamps

Additionally, and as an independent initiative, Strombeek has invested around €6.5m ($7.3m) in entirely revamping its nitrous oxide (N2O) production plant, including several investments in the recovery of N2O and water treatment projects that took place in 2015. The updated, fully-automated plant, which forms part of the company’s main site in Meise, is expected be functioning by mid-2017 and will generate a total capacity of 9,000 tonnes of N2O each year.

“The plant building was worn out so there was an absolute necessity to invest in this project and do it in a good way with the correct mind set,” declared Soens. “We have the ambition to be the leading manufacturer of nitrous oxide in Europe, and we are in a good position to do that.”

The final piece of the financial puzzle lies with Strombeek’s dry ice production methods, in which the corporation has substituted all its old machinery with “the newest technology available.” The ultramodern replacement machines were supplied by IceTech in a deal worth €1.25m ($1.4m).

Everything is being completely rebuilt to bring us into the next phase

 

The CEO described, “Everything is being completely rebuilt to bring us into the next phase. We were experiencing some difficulties with customers in the pharmaceutical sector, and as they demanded higher standards we responded.”

This shakeup now leaves Strombeek in a strong position on the European market, as Soens explains, “A lot of the investments are made with a goal to add onto the efficiency of our company, so we are able to follow the highest and the newest standards in automation and environmental technology available for production.” 

“Our story is that we want to generate approximately 50% of our revenue in production capacity from plants that we have complete control over – and now we are easily meeting that requirement.”