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Adipic acid is much sought after in the plastics industry as a precursor for the manufacture of nylon or polyurethanes, for example. During the acid’s production, however, N2O or nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) is formed, which is a harmful greenhouse gas. LANXESS has therefore invested in a nitrous oxide reduction unit (LARA), which almost entirely prevents the gas from being emitted into the atmosphere.
Innovation: N2O-free production
Nitrous oxide – a compound formed from nitrogen and oxygen – is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. To make the molecule harmless to the climate, it must be split into its components. This is where LARA comes in, treating the nitrous oxide that develops in connection with adipic acid production in a thermal process at high temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. As the main elements naturally found in the air, oxygen and nitrogen can be emitted without causing harm. The unit neutralises approximately 5,000 tonnes of nitrous oxide in this way every year. That corresponds to around 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents each year.
Efficiency: creating an integrated system
Not only does the technique prevent the harmful gas from escaping into the atmosphere, but the heat generated in the splitting process also produces steam, which is fed into the supply network for the adjacent CHEMPARK in Krefeld-Uerdingen, where it can be put to further use. The combination of waste gas purification and heat generation has thus created an integrated system that has the additional benefit of increasing efficiency.
Impact: climate protection and operating efficiency go hand in hand
In total, depending on production levels, LANXESS breaks down 5 to 10 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents every year. Thanks to its climate friendly process, the company does not need to use its purchased emissions permits. The sale of these permits allows the construction of the unit to be refinanced. By taking these steps, the chemicals company is making an active contribution toward protecting the climate. With the implementation of the project, LANXESS became a pioneer in the climate-friendly redesign of adipic acid production, setting an example that has already been followed by other companies.