Chairman of the LANXESS Board of Management Axel C. Heitmann and State Secretary in the Ministry for the Environment and Nature Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia Alexander Schink have inaugurated a new nitrous oxide reduction unit - known as LARA - at LANXESS’s Krefeld-Uerdingen site. The specialty chemicals group has invested around EUR 10 million in the facility which was built in a record time of less than one year.
“With this lighthouse project we are making a clear statement in extremely difficult economic circumstances and, in this very global crisis, expressing a commitment to innovation and environmental protection,” said Heitmann.
LANXESS will cut emissions of climate-unfriendly gases at its German facilities through 2012 by around 80 percent compared to 2007 levels. The core project here is the new, second plant for reducing the greenhouse gas dinitrogen monoxide (N2O), more commonly known as nitrous oxide. The new plant supplements the existing facility at the location.
New unit breaks down 5,000 metric tons of nitrous oxide per year
With this new facility LANXESS will neutralize around 5,000 metric tons of nitrous oxide per year, which corresponds to approximately 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents. In total, with its two plants, LANXESS will annually reduce five to 10 million tons of CO2 equivalents. With the new, second facility LANXESS is developing into the technology leader in the reduction of N2O.
Nitrous oxide is produced during the manufacture of adipic acid, a precursor for plastics. Although the gas is completely safe for humans, it is over 300 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. With its two facilities the specialty chemicals group will be the world’s only adipic acid producer able to fully neutralize all of the climate-unfriendly gas N2O it generates.
Innovations safeguard jobs in the long term
“I am convinced that investment in innovation and highly efficient technology contributes to long-term job security in Germany,” said Heitmann during the inauguration. “With this unique system of facilities to reduce nitrous oxide we are making a key contribution to safeguarding the future of our site in Krefeld and of our company in general.”
Climate protection necessitates technical advances
“LARA is a prime example of how industrial production and climate policy do not have to be contradictions,” said State Secretary Schink, praising LANXESS’s project. “In fact the opposite is true. Climate protection needs innovation. Climate protection needs technical advances. And for these advances we need industry as a driving force for innovation in our country."
A new means of financing
LANXESS is a pioneer not only in the reduction of nitrous oxide but also in the way it is financing the investment: The facility is the first industrial joint implementation project to be realized in Germany. This innovative climate protection initiative is a tool provided for in the Kyoto Protocol that is used in emissions trading between industrial countries. By selling emissions allowances that are no longer needed owing to the reduction of the nitrous oxide, LANXESS can refinance the entire investment of nearly EUR 10 million required for the construction of the plant. “This is in the interests of both environmental protection and our own commercial success,” added Heitmann. “In the long term we will only remain competitive internationally if we act sustainably."
Nitrous oxide is broken down into its two constituents
In a thermal process, nitrous oxide is separated from the waste gas stream from adipic acid production into its constituent parts oxygen and nitrogen at temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Celsius. The heat created generates steam that is fed into the supply network at CHEMPARK Krefeld-Uerdingen.
Nitrous oxide is a chemical compound comprising nitrogen and oxygen. Traditionally, it served in medicine as an anesthetic and is now used, among other applications, as a propellant for foodstuffs such as in whipped-cream chargers.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leader in specialty chemicals with sales in 2007 of EUR 6.61 billion and currently around 15,000 employees in 21 countries. The company has operations at 44 sites worldwide. LANXESS’s core business comprises the development, manufacture and sale of specialty chemicals, plastics, rubber and intermediates.