Bayer receives Environmental Award from the Federation of German Industries
Energy-efficient process recycles chlorine from hydrochloric acid / Industrial application in Germany and China / Bayer Management Board member Dr. Plischke: “Increase in energy efficiency brings economic and ecological benefits”
Leverkusen.– Bayer has been presented with the 2008 Environmental Award in the category “Environmentally Friendly Technologies” by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) for its new chlorine production process. This process reduces power consumption and CO2 emissions by 30 percent. As part of the “BDI Day of German Industry 2008”, BDI President Jürgen R. Thumann and BDI Director General Dr. Werner Schnappauf presented the prize in Berlin to Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG responsible for Innovation, Technology and Environment.
“Our panel of judges was impressed that a technological innovation that significantly increases energy efficiency has been developed and applied in a particularly relevant area of production within the chemical industry,” commented Schnappauf during the awards ceremony. “This new environmentally friendly technology from Bayer is proof of the innovative strength of German industry.”
The production of chlorine – a basic chemical in the manufacture of high-quality materials such as polyurethane – is extremely energy-intensive. As a result, Bayer worked with partners to develop the oxygen depolarized cathode technology. By targeted use of oxygen in the electrolysis of hydrochloric acid, this process for producing chlorine reduces the electrical energy required, and therefore the CO2 emitted during its production, by 30 percent. This chlorine production process recycles chlorine in a closed cycle.
“The significant increase in energy efficiency in our production makes sense both in economic and ecological terms,” said Plischke in Berlin. “For us, technological expertise is bound with a responsibility to use it to bring sustained benefits to mankind and protect the environment – an aim that reflects our Mission Statement ‘Bayer: Science For A Better Life’.”
Hydrochloric acid generated as a by-product in polyurethane production is separated into chlorine and water during the electrolysis process using electricity and oxygen as an additional reactant. The chlorine obtained can be reused, thus closing the cycle. The electrode – which is connected as a cathode and consumes oxygen – is termed an oxygen depolarized cathode and gave its name to the new technology that functions according to the fuel cell principle.
Since 2003, Bayer has been using the patented oxygen depolarized cathode technology in Germany at its Brunsbüttel site in a facility with an annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons of chlorine. Bayer is soon to implement the new hydrochloric acid electrolysis on a large industrial scale at the Caojing site in China with a yearly capacity of 215,000 tons of chlorine.
As part of a research project supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Bayer is also working in cooperation with partners to apply the oxygen depolarized cathode technology to the process of obtaining chlorine from common salt. Experts are confident that this will also result in energy savings of 30 percent, and the pilot phase is set to begin in 2010. Were this technology to be used universally in chlorine production worldwide, it could reduce CO2 emissions by 20 million tons per year. That is more than 2.5 times the level of CO2 currently emitted by Bayer in its global production.
Increasing energy efficiency in chlorine production is one of the climate protection activities that the Group pooled in its Bayer Climate Program at the end of 2007. Other projects include the Climate Check that was developed by Bayer and is used to monitor CO2 emissions at the company’s production sites worldwide. The “EcoCommercial Building” – a concept for zero-emission office buildings, developed with partners and currently being implemented by Bayer in India for the first time – and research into the use of the jatropha plant in the production of biodiesel are other key components of the Group’s integrated climate protection program.
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