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Comment Environment, Health, Safety & Security

Clariant offers free nitrous-oxide-abatement catalyst to nitric acid producers

By Scott Jenkins |

Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland; www.clariant.com), a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company, today launched a major global campaign to reduce the climate change impact of nitrous oxide (N2O). Drawing on decades of catalyst research expertise, the company has developed the EnviCat N2O-S catalyst, which is proven to remove up to 95% of N2O generated as a byproduct of nitric acid production*[1]. Clariant is now offering a free fill of EnviCat N2O-S to 10 nitric acid producers who do not have N2O off-gas treatment in place. Through the campaign, the company intends to help avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to several million tons of CO2 every year.

Of the approximately 500 nitric acid plants operating globally, more than half run without N2O abatement, mostly in regions without applicable emission control regulations*[2]. Clariant now aims to tip the balance towards more sustainable production processes. The company is offering a free first fill of EnviCat N2O-S catalyst to up to 10 nitric acid producers who currently do not use an N2O abatement catalyst.

Hans Bohnen, Chief Operating Officer at Clariant, commented, “Sustainability is no longer an afterthought of business; it is central to what we do and requires action now. That’s why we announced new ambitious science-based climate targets for Clariant. But as a specialty chemicals company we can do more: I am therefore particularly proud to announce that we have committed a substantial investment to help nitric acid producers worldwide virtually eliminate their N2O off-gas emissions. This benefits the climate, while also helping the nitric acid manufacturers to minimize their carbon footprint and progress on their sustainability journey.”

Stefan Heuser, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Clariant Catalysts, stated, “Our aim is to provide a considerable contribution to environmental protection. While N2O is extremely harmful for the climate, it is easy to reduce with our catalysts. We believe that once those nitric acid producers experience the benefits – with a free-of-charge catalyst and without obligations – they will be ready to change.”

Over 60 million tons of nitric acid are produced annually around the world, mainly for manufacturing fertilizers. Despite its importance for our food chain, the chemical has a major drawback: its production emits N2O, which is extremely harmful for the climate. The greenhouse gas remains approximately 114 years in the atmosphere and thus impacts global warming around 300 times more than CO2*[3]. Annually, N2O emissions from the production of nitric acid and its derivative adipic acid are equivalent to about 100 million tons of CO2*[4].

The technology to avoid the serious impacts of N2O emissions is already available: Clariant’s EnviCat N2O-S catalyst converts up to 95% of the N2O formed during nitric acid production into the harmless substances oxygen and nitrogen. Besides climate benefits, the catalyst can also slightly increase nitric acid yield by improving the efficiency of the ammonia oxidation process. Designed as a convenient “drop-in” solution, the catalyst is easy to install with almost no engineering modifications.

Clariant’s EnviCat N2O emission control catalysts are already installed in more than 45 nitric acid production plants globally. Combined, they reduce annual N2O emissions equivalent to more than 20 million metric tons of CO2.

[1] Source: Multiple references worldwide using Clariant’s EnviCat® N2O-S in commercial operation

[2] Source: Entec, 2017

[3] Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

[4] Source: IPCC, 5th Assessment Report, ”Climate Change 2014”

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