Leverkusen, Germany -- Bayer MaterialScience's conversion of a nitric acid plant in Dormagen means the company is now able to virtually eliminate the site's emissions of nitrous oxide, a gas that is harmful to the climate, the supplier said in a 9 Nov news release.
BMS is using Uhde's EnviNO process, which uses catalysis to convert nitrous oxide -- a by-product far more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide -- into nitrogen and water.
"This new process was installed in the plant with great support from Bayer Technology Services, and marks yet another successful step in our efforts to protect the climate," said Dr Tony Van Osselaer, BMS board member of responsible for production and technology, in the company's statement. "It also underlines our commitment to sustainability."
Conversion work at the Dormagen plant, operated by INEOS, cost Euro 6.5 million ($9 million) and is expected to reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 98 to 99 percent. This will prevent 220 kilotonnes (kt) of CO2 equivalents per year -- similar to the emissions of 100 000 cars driving 15 000 km a year.
The new reactor replaces a catalyst which converted a significant proportion of the nitrous oxide.
Bayer MaterialScience says nitric acid is a key component in the production of polyurethanes, and that the group is also making its chlorine production more eco friendly.
Here it uses an innovative process for the extremely energy-intensive production of this essential basic chemical. This is known as oxygen-depolarized cathode technology, an electrolysis process, developed with partners, for the production of chlorine from common salt.
The first industrial-scale facility of this kind is scheduled to go on stream at BMS's Uerdingen site in 2011. This technology reduces energy consumption, and thus greenhouse gases, by up to 30 percent. Emissions of CO2 equivalents are expected to decrease by 250 kt by 2020. Bayer MaterialScience has been utilising oxygen-depolarized cathode technology for the energy-efficient recovery of chlorine from hydrochloric acid since 2003.
From 2012, the company also wants to cut greenhouse gases by 350 kt a year using the global energy management system STRUCTese, introduced in 2008. Halfway through the project, manager Dr Johannes Eickmans is happy with progress: "We have already reduced CO2 equivalents by more than 150 kt and achieved average energy savings of five percent in 22 plants worldwide."
BMS aims to implement STRUCTese in the 60 most energy-intensive facilities by 2012, with average energy savings of around 10 percent.