18 Apr 2024, 13:09
Julian Wettengel

German chemicals company BASF tests production technology with large CO2 reduction potential

Clean Energy Wire

German chemicals company BASF has inaugurated a demonstration plant using a new electricity-based technology that could reduce CO2 emissions in certain production steps by at least 90 percent, the company said in a press release. Together with chemicals companies SABIC and Linde, it put into operation the world's first large-scale electrically heated steam cracking furnace. Steam crackers are used to produce basic chemicals needed in the industry, such as ethylene and propylene. The crackers need very high temperatures in furnaces to break down hydrocarbons, for example from naphtha or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This heat has so far been produced with fossil fuels, but the demonstration plant uses electricity. If it was to use electricity from renewable sources, "the new technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions of one of the most energy-intensive production processes in the chemical industry by at least 90 percent compared to technologies commonly used today," said BASF. The two electrically heated furnaces of the plant together process around four tonnes of hydrocarbon feedstock and consume six megawatts of renewable energy per hour.

The companies aim to bring the technology to market maturity. Reducing emissions in industry is a major challenge on the way to greenhouse gas neutrality in Germany by 2045. Processes that need especially high temperatures so far require burning fossil fuels like gas or coal, which releases climate-harmful carbon dioxide.

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