Italian-based gas manufacturer GTS has tested the performance of the 1MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at its hydrocarbon manufacturing facility in Arquà Polesine, Italy, and announced that the system “effectively fuels the entire depot.”

“Despite today’s partially cloudy winter weather conditions, the solar plant is already demonstrating its efficacy, covering 82% of the site’s energy consumption,” GTS said in a press release

GTS opened the Arquà Polesine facility in December 2021 to meet increasing demand for refrigerant-grade hydrocarbons: propane (R290), isobutane (R600a), n-butane (R600) and propylene (R1270). The facility covers 55,000m2 (592,015ft2) and can produce more than 25,000 metric tons of purified hydrocarbons annually.

“This remarkable achievement exemplifies GTS’s dedication to sustainable practices [and] showcases the potential of renewable energy in industrial applications,” GTS said. “By lowering the company’s scope 3 emissions, GTS is not just transforming its operations but contributing to a greener and more efficient world.”

The Arquà Polesine site purifies hydrocarbons to 99.99% using two distillation columns, with the heating and cooling for each column provided by an R290 heat pump.

“The distillation plant developed by GTS is different from the standard distillation processes that are characterized by a high consumption of utilities such as water and oil,” GTS CEO Paolo Zunino said. “The GTS process, with a combined control of heating and cooling, allows optimization of the consumptions in order to be in line with the goal of a green economy.”

Sustainable and clean

In a May 2023 Zerosottozero article, Zunino combated industry criticism that hydrocarbons are not natural because they are manufactured.

“[Hydrocarbons] are molecules of natural origin because in none of the ways of obtaining [them] is there the synthesis of something new,” he said.

In addition, GTS indicates on its website that the Arquà Polesine plant distills raw materials that may have been otherwise unusable. The company extracts refrigerant-grade hydrocarbons from raw liquid petroleum gas obtained from companies that own oil refineries and extractive wells.

“Our plant produces R290, R600a, R600 and R1270 with titers above 3.5, thereby minimizing the non-condensing component of the gas,” the company says.

As part of Quiris Holding Industriale, GTS, headquartered in Genova, operates branches in Belgium, Brazil, Romania and Thailand to globally supply high-grade hydrocarbons to the HVAC&R, aerosol and petrochemical industries.

The company received the ATMO Approved Natural Refrigerants Label from ATMOsphere, a global market accelerator of clean cooling and heating solutions and publisher of Hydrocarbons21.com, for 2024. ATMOsphere, (formerly shecco), launched the label in June 2022 as a global gold standard highlighting best-in-class manufacturers of natural refrigerant systems and components around the world.

“Despite today’s partially cloudy winter weather conditions, the solar plant is already demonstrating its efficacy, covering 82% of the site’s energy consumption.”

GTS