The EU Commission has granted thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH an extension of the permissible period for using chromium trioxide. With the publication in the EU Official Journal on 21/10/2020, new review times for the use of chromium (VI) now apply for the production of tinplate and special chromium-coated packaging steel from the company. The period expires on 21/10/2027 for tinplate and on December 31, 2028 for special chromium-coated steel.
At thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, chromium trioxide has been used in the manufacture of the passivation of tinplate and in the production of special chromium-coated packaging steel. This substance was banned by the EU Commission within the framework of the REACH Regulation and is therefore gradually being eliminated from all manufacturing processes across Europe. thyssenkrupp Rasselstein already has substitute solutions in its portfolio: For tinplate, the company is replacing the chromium-containing passivation with rasselstein® CFPA, a passivation based on titanium. For special chromium-coated packaging steel (ECCS/TFS) there is a new coating technology known as Trivalent Chromium Coating Technology (TCCT), based on chromium (III), which will be ready for series production on the factory premises from 2022.
“We welcome the period extension as it is extremely important for risk management reasons. This allows us to provide our customers the leeway they need to implement chromium (VI) -free products on the market” says Dr. Peter Biele, CEO of the only German manufacturer of packaging steel.
rasselstein® CFPA - Chromium (VI)-free alternative product for tinplate
One of the two 100% chromium (VI)-free alternative products is rasselstein® CFPA – an innovative, series-ready passivation for tinplate based on titanium (Chromium-Free Passivation Alternative). The product effectively minimizes the tin oxide growth during storage, providing the same functionality as chromium-based passivations. It gives tinplate high-quality surface properties, such as a brilliant appearance, best lacquer adhesion, excellent wettability, and very good direct printability.
CFPA was developed jointly by the European manufacturers of packaging steel, which are organized together in the APEAL Association1. Chromium-free passivation is fully compliant with EU and FDA regulations and is approved for contact with foodstuffs. The draft of the European Standard EN10202 therefore describes CFPA as the new European standard.
"Numerous customers have already converted their line-produced goods to CFPA with great success," stated Biele. “Some customers have decided to carry out storage tests on lacquered food cans for durations of up to four years. Accordingly, we have been supporting this endeavor since 2019 with chromium-free passivated tinplate. Through the extension of the permissible period, we have gained a little time for those customers whose applications are still undergoing storage tests. And for our company it is very important that we maintain legal certainty for our products."
thyssenkrupp is currently gradually converting its four tinning lines in Andernach to the use of rasselstein® CFPA to meet the increasing demand for chromium (VI)-free packaging steel.
TCCT - New coating technology for special chromium-coated material
thyssenkrupp Rasselstein is also developing an alternative to chromium (VI) for special chromium-coated packaging steel. This is based on a new coating technology called Trivalent Chromium Coating Technology (TCCT), which contains chromium (III) instead of the previously customary chromium (VI) as a resource in the processes. The final product retains its current structure and complies with the requirements of the EU REACH Regulation. The technology is based on a patent from Tata Steel Ijmuiden B.V., for which thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH has acquired a license. “We have further developed TCCT with our existing expertise in the production of special chromium-coated material. A new coating line is currently being built on the factory premises that will produce TCCT and is expected to go into operation in 2022“, says Oliver Hoffmann, CTO of thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH when speaking about the future.
The packaging steel, which will then be produced on the coating line, is a product that, just like today's ECCS / TFS2, has a chromium (III) /chromium (0) coating. The difference is therefore not in the product, but in the process. “In the future, it will not be us who will be converting chromium (VI) into chromium (III) in our manufacturing process. This will instead be done by our supplier in advance in a system that will be structurally closed, unlike today. This change is required by the new REACH Regulation. As soon as the new system is ready for use, we will also be ready to get started with this product”, explained Biele.
Full support when switching to chromium (VI)-free alternative products
When transitioning to chrome (VI)-free solutions, customers of thyssenkrupp Rasselstein can rely on the full backing of technical customer service, which will advise them on all issues. “Furthermore, the network of coating suppliers, packaging steel manufacturers, packaging manufacturers and fillers we have established ensures that the transition to chromium (VI)-free alternative products takes place as smoothly as possible”, explains Hoffmann.
“Thanks to the decision of the EU Commission, we now have legal certainty. We will use the extension of the authorization to convince our customers to switch to chrome-free alternative products as soon as possible, to carry out storage tests – if not already done – and to qualify our products as quickly as possible”, states Biele. "Even if the end of the authorization period currently seems way off in the future, the deadline is always approaching. We at Rasselstein are prepared and hope, together with the value chain, to achieve the goal of doing even more for work, health and environmental protection within the EU, particularly with the REACH Regulation as a basis."