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Reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants


Success in EU research project

* New solvent from BASF enhances efficiency
* Denmark pilot plant to start up in early 2006

11/18/05, BASF has developed a novel solvent that is particularly efficient in removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plant emissions. The company contributes this new development to a European Union (EU) sponsored research project for thorough research into the removal and collection of CO2 gases, the greenhouse gases emitted from incineration processes. The solvent, and the corresponding gas scrubbing process, will be tested in practice from March 2006 in the world’s largest pilot plant of this type located in Esbjerg/Denmark.

New CO2 solvent saves energy

CO2 is removed from power plant emissions by means of chemical solvents which bind the CO2 in the first step. Then, when they are reconditioned, they release this CO2 before they are fed back to the process. To prevent the CO2 from escaping to the atmosphere, it is condensed and stored – for example in water-bearing strata of rock (aquifers), in mines or old oil and gas deposits. However, conventional solvents are easily degenerated by the oxygen contained in the power-plant waste gas, and the process also requires major input of energy to achieve the absorption, release and storage of CO2. Laboratory tests have shown the novel amine-based solvent from BASF to be much more stable than conventional solvents, which means that it can be used longer. It also consumes less energy in the process of absorbing and releasing CO2. A gas scrubbing process based on the new solvent can therefore substantially reduce the cost of CO2 removal.

BASF joined the EU-sponsored research project in early 2004. Other contributors to the project include prestigious European universities, research institutes, official organizations and representatives of industry. Leading power plant operators, oil and gas companies, and plant manufacturers are also involved. Within BASF, the Chemicals Research and Technology unit and the Intermediates Operating Division are cooperating to accelerate progress on the project.

The research project was set up in response to the Kyoto Protocol whose objective is the long-term reduction of climate-damaging greenhouse gases. “Power plants generate approximately 40 percent of the CO2 emissions of OECD countries,” remarks Dr. Norbert Asprion, a staff member of the Amines Marketing unit in the Intermediates division of the BASF Group. Power plant operators are therefore striving to increase their energy efficiency in order to avoid energy losses and hence reduce CO2 outputs. Asprion: “Though much can be improved in this area, there’s still going to be an appreciable emission of CO2. CO2 removal and storage would significantly reduce these emissions, but the process itself would involve additional input of energy and generate further emissions in its own right. Therefore, it needs to be as efficient as possible. And that’s what our new development is all about.”

BASF has extensive experience in gas scrubbing

BASF has extensive experience in removing CO2 from waste gases. The company markets its amine scrubbing technology under the brand name aMDEA® for the removal of acid gases such as CO2. The BASF process has been known for a long time, it is used successfully in more than 220 plants worldwide to scrub natural and synthesis gases. Unlike these gases, however, those from incineration occur at far lower pressure and contain oxygen. Alternatives to aMDEA therefore need to be found for scrubbing power-plant emissions. “The development of innovative solvents is an excellent chance for BASF to penetrate a promising new market,” says Dr. Iven Clausen, a gas scrubbing expert from the BASF Chemicals Research and Technology unit.


The operating division Intermediates of the BASF Group develops, produces and markets the world’s largest range of intermediates. The most important of the division’s more than 600 products include amines, diols, polyalcohols and acids. Among other applications, intermediates are used as starting materials for coatings, plastics, pharmaceuticals, textile fibers, detergents and crop protectants. The operating division has access to plants at 15 production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In 2004, this BASF operating division with 2,850 employees generated world sales of €2 billion (2003: €1.8 billion). For more information, go to


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