Lanxess Opens Nitrous Oxide Reduction Plant In Belgium

Feb. 12, 2021
The plant reportedly breaks down around 500 metric tons of nitrous oxide per year

Lanxess inaugurated a nitrous oxide reduction plant at its site in Antwerp, Belgium on February 10. The plant reportedly breaks down around 500 metric tons of nitrous oxide per year, which is equivalent to the climate impact of 150,000 metric tons of CO2. Lanxess says it has invested around EUR 10 million in its construction. A second plant is scheduled to start up in 2023 and is expected to eliminate a further 300,000 tons of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), according to the company.

“We are committed to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius. The new nitrous oxide reduction plant in Antwerp is a key building block in Lanxess becoming climate-neutral by 2040,” says Lanxess Board of Management Member Hubert Fink. “Climate protection is a business case for us. On the one hand, we are becoming an even more sustainable partner for our customers. On the other, we are reducing our costs because we need fewer certificates from the European Emissions Trading System and use less energy thanks to innovative technologies.”

Nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas, is generated at the Antwerp site during the production of the plastic intermediate caprolactam. It is harmless to humans but 300 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. At temperatures of around 1,000 degrees Celsius, Lanxess breaks down the nitrous oxide into its harmless components nitrogen and oxygen in the new plant, thus neutralizing it completely, according to the company. The plant breaks down further nitrogen oxides (NOx) using ammonia as a reducing agent. At temperatures between 250 and 450 degrees Celsius, the nitrogen oxides are broken down and produce nitrogen and water.

Due to these processes, the plant is reportedly highly thermally efficient. This is ensured by specially developed ceramic heat exchangers that capture and store the heat used in the thermal oxidation process and generated during the breakdown of nitrous oxide and nitrogen oxides. When the heat exchangers have stored the heat from the clean gas, the process flow changes direction and the heat exchangers preheat the incoming exhaust gas. The change of direction takes place recurrently. This means that significantly less external energy has to be supplied to keep the process running, according to Lanxess.

In addition to the Antwerp plant, the company is currently implementing further climate protection projects with the aim of becoming climate neutral by 2040. Lanxess is switching the entire energy supply at its Indian sites to renewable energy sources. There, the company is massively expanding its supply of biomass and solar power and will no longer use coal or gas in the future. This will cut CO2e emissions by a further 150,000 tons starting from 2024, according to Lanxess. The company says it also plans to phase out coal-based energy use at its major production sites in Germany. In 2019, Lanxess announced it would invest a total of up to EUR 100 million in its climate protection projects by 2025.

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