The specialty chemicals company LANXESS is taking a step towards climate neutrality in the port of Antwerp. It has invested 10 million euros in a special installation to significantly reduce the emissions of nitrous oxide and nitrogen at the production site in Lillo. In an initial phase, the company achieves an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions comparable to 150,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. A second installation is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023, which represents an additional reduction of another 300,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Nitrous oxide (N2O), or laughing gas for short, is created as a by-product during the production of the synthetic semi-finished product caprolactam, an essential component for, among other things, high-quality components in electronics or lightweight materials for energy-efficient cars. As a greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide is 300 times more harmful than CO2. The new installation will break down approximately 500 tonnes of nitrous oxide per year, which equates to a positive climate effect of 150,000 tonnes of avoided CO2 emissions.
LANXESS uses innovative technology with a high energy efficiency for this. In the new installation, the laughing gas is split into the components nitrogen and oxygen at temperatures around 1,000 degrees Celsius. This way, the greenhouse gas is completely neutralised.
Largest installation of its kind in Europe
In a second process step, at temperatures of 250 to 450 degrees, the installation further breaks down nitrogen oxides (NOx) into nitrogen and water. Specially developed ceramic heat exchangers capture the released heat for later reuse. Much less energy needs to be added from outside to keep the process going. The installation has been in use since the end of last year, is the largest of its kind in Europe and will be significantly expanded from 2023.