Leipzig, 24 March 2020 – VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG has set up a production line for the manufacture of disinfectants at their Zörbig site in order to contribute to meeting the needs of hospitals and pharmacies during the Corona pandemic. From bioethanol, otherwise used as biofuel, a hand disinfectant is now being produced in accordance with WHO recommendations. In this way, the company is demonstrating that in difficult times it can use its skills quickly and adeptly to support society.
"Immediately after the scarcity of disinfectants became known, we quickly moved forward to rea-lize the technical feasibility of switching production from bioethanol as fuel to bioethanol as the basis for disinfectants. At the same time, we clarified the legal framework and applied for a corresponding special permit from the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This has been granted and we are now allowed to produce a disinfectant for hand disinfection in accordance with WHO recommendations and deliver it to hospitals and pharmacies", says Prof. Dr. Oliver Lüdtke, responsible Technical Director at VERBIO.
The team around Managing Director Dr. Wolfram Klein set up a production and filling facility for the disinfectant at the VERBIO site in Zörbig in just a few days. What sounds simple, however, was a real challenge: "Bioethanol used as a biofuel is not tasteless or odorless. The entire production process had to be changed to meet this important requirement", explains Dr. Klein.
In addition, VERBIO had to set up a new 24-hour filling facility and the corresponding logistics for commercial packaging units in the disinfectant area at short notice. Dr. Klein emphasises: "We usually deliver our bioethanol in tankers or tank trucks to our customers, the oil companies. We now offer disinfectants in 10-liter and 20-liter canisters and 220-liter drums. That's a big difference."
Now production of disinfectants is running at full speed so that VERBIO is able to serve nationwide requests from hospitals and pharmacies. Currently, 40,000 liters of disinfectant are produced per week. Production volumes are being gradually ramped up.
CEO Claus Sauter is proud: "As a company we bear social responsibility. That is why we accepted the challenge of the production changeover and made it possible, which was judged by the political decision-makers to be too complex and therefore excluded at the weekend. Our team has once again demonstrated their technological and organizational capabilities and commitment".
At its sites in Schwedt/Oder (Brandenburg) and Zörbig (Saxony-Anhalt) VERBIO AG produces bioethanol, which is used as a fuel to reduce CO2 emissions in traffic. VERBIO also produces biodiesel and pharmaceutical grade glycerine at its plants in Schwedt/Oder and Bitterfeld (Saxony-Anhalt). This means that important raw materials for the production of disinfectants are available in the company's own product range.
Due to the limited private and business mobility caused by the corona pandemic, a decrease in the quantities of bioethanol required in the transport sector can be expected, at least temporarily. According to the company's assessment, free quantities are sufficiently available for the production of disinfectants until further notice.
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Picture 1: VERBIO now produces disinfectants from the biofuel ethanol, © VERBIO AG
Picture 2: Fast and flexible: Two VERBIO employees take over the first deliveries to pharmacies with their company cars, © VERBIO AG