A Universal Genius – Lime from the Swiss Netstal

Whether as a calcium additive for foods and feeds, pharmaceutical solutions or as a highly pure acid scavenger in plastics: Due to its consistently high and outstanding quality, lime from the Swiss Netstal valley is a partner in all these fields.

For more than ten years now, fine white lime (calcium oxide, nekafin 2 and nekafin 0) and hydrated or slaked lime (calcium hydroxide, nekapur 2 & nekablanc 0) from the Swiss Netstal have been used in a wide variety of highly sensitive areas. The respective production facilities are scattered not only across Europe, they are also found in North and Latin America and in Asia.

Products from the Swiss Netstal are transformed to many different calcium compounds:

  • Calcium propionate and calcium butyrate: preserving agents for foods and Feeds
  • Calcium stearate: stabilizing reagent for PVC, lubricant for pharmaceutic pills
  • Calcium citrate, calcium lactate and calcium gluconate: calcium additives for dietary supplements
  • Calcium phosphate: acidity regulator and separating agent in baking ready-mixes, partially also used in baby food
  • Calcium peroxide: disinfecting agent in toothpastes and chewing gums (in the USA: dough conditioning agent)

All these applications demand a high purity. As most of these products are used in the food industry, as a minimum the very strict limits of the European regulation on food additives with respect to toxic ingredients have to be adhered to. Individual clients have even stricter demands. The raw materials from the Swiss Netstal are in a leading position Europe-wide in this aspect. In order to continually guarantee our customers the quality of these highly pure products, in our production facilities and processes were certified according to ISO 22000 as safe for food production. This includes a system for the controlled supervision of all possible food-relevant risks (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, HACCP). Since our certification, external audits confirm and prove the conformity with the relevant norms every year.

For the production of the calcium salts mentioned above, usually there has to be a chemical reaction with an acid first. For this, the lime product has to be sufficiently reactive. The reactivity of the burnt lime from the Swiss Netstal has always been the best when compared with all other European limes. The two reasons for this are the purity of the raw material and the optimal burning process in the regenerative shaft furnace. The fuel used was switched in 2013 from heavy oil to natural gas, further improving the reactivity and the purity.

Calcium hydroxide from the Swiss Netstal, nekapur 2, is used since the 1990s to increase the pH value of drinking water in Zurich. This, too, is a very sensitive use with high demands on purity. For this, a standard grain size type is used (about 2 per cent sieving residue on .09 mm).

To optimize chemical reactions with the acids mentioned above, KFN started offering a special, very fine calcium hydroxide under the name nekablanc 0 in 2005. This product started with a maximum grain size in the range of .04 mm. After a comprehensive refurbishment of the processing plant for calcium hydroxide in 2011, this maximum size could be lowered to .02 mm. This further enlarged the range of our customers.

Our products are also used to make whey and lactose from milk. Lactose is an indispensable additive in most pharmaceutic pills. In this case, too, it is self-explanatory that the safety has to be guaranteed.

Lastly, modified lime products from the Netstal are currently optimized for their use against several pests. This laborious process is conducted together with the Swiss-based Research Institute for Ecological Agriculture (Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL) and a well-renowned institute of the ETH University in Zurich. Since pesticides of this type have to be officially licensed in a process with very challenging demands, it should be some time until this research leads to a marketable product.