Edited by Hydrocarbon Processing
For 40 years, BASF the worlds largest chemical
producer says it has been at the forefront of gas
treatment innovation. Today, with climate-change regulations on
the rise, the focus has turned to making carbon capture and
storage (CCS) commercially viable.
In 1971, BASF initially applied newly-developed technology
based on activated methyl diethanolamine to remove
carbon dioxide (CO2) from synthesis gas to produce ammonia, a
crucial starting material for fertilizer. The facility, which
is still in operation, is located at the Ludwigshafen,
In 2012, almost 300 plants worldwide use BASFs
knowhow to remove acid gases such as CO2 and
hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from various types of process
gases. Recently, BASF began marketing its combined gas-treating
technology, chemical and technical
service offerings under the Oase brand.
With climate change becoming an increasing concern globally,
BASF says it is actively leveraging its expertise to become a
leading contender in the race to make carbon capture and storage (CCS)
commercially viable. Over the years, BASFs portfolio has
continuously expanded. Beyond extensive offerings in technology
and gas-treating chemicals, the company offers additional
technical support services, such as customized on-site training
Europe and North America, as well as
Australia and parts of Asia, are spending heavily on developing
new, more efficient technologies for harnessing solar- and wind
power to substitute fossil fuels. But many experts believe that
coal will continue to be one of the pillars of the worlds
energy supply for several decades to come.
To bridge the potential energy gap looming in some
countries, new coal power stations undoubtedly will be built.
This means that energy providers as well as technology
suppliers will face a challenge on how to meet the ever more
stringent national and international standards for emissions control in an efficient
and affordable manner while working to develop more
technologically advanced solutions.
The framework for cleaning greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
from coal-fired power plants is now being put into place. The
European Union (EU) is
committed to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 20%
up to 2020 compared with 1990 and is prepared to raise this
commitment to 30% if other industrialised nations agree to
The Australian government in 2008 created a Global Carbon Capture
and Storage Institute and has committed A$100 million a
year in funding to accelerate development of technologies to
curb GHG emissions.
As coal is expected to dominate Indias fuel mix for another 20
years, its government for some time has been exploring
development of cleaner technologies.
The US, too, has awakened to the need to act on emissions. In August 2010, the
Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage
delivered a series of recommendations to President Barack
Obama on how to overcome barriers to widespread, cost-effective
deployment of CCS within 10 years. The report concluded that
this technology can play an important role in domestic GHG
emissions reduction while preserving the option of using coal
and other abundant domestic fossil energy resources.
There are many potential routes to minimizing the impact of
GHG on climate. BASF says it is currently tapping its
technology resources to participate, alongside other companies,
in a number of pilot projects in Europe and the US.
Closest to its home base, BASF is a partner in a pilot
project steered by RWE Power at the German energy
providers Coal Innovation Center in Niederaussem,
Germany, near Cologne. The object is to test highly
energy-efficient and oxygen-stable solvents for
removing CO2 from bituminous coal emissions.
BASF has developed an improved scrubbing process based on
new chemical solvents it has developed to
capture CO2, and already has demonstrated that
energy input can be slashed by about 20%, according to the
Altogether, RWE is spending around 9 million on the
development project. The German federal government contributed
about 4 million to the cost of the pilot plant, which was
built and engineered by Munich, Germany-based international
gases group Linde and captures around eight tons per
day of CO2, equivalent to a separation
efficiency of 90% for the flue gas processed.
BASF and Linde have been testing the CO2 capture
technology at Niederaussem since
2009. According to Dr. Andreas Northemann, business manager,
global gas treatment in BASFs intermediates division, the
improved solvents feature clearly superior oxygen
stability, which reduces solvent consumption
The technology should allow more than 90% of the process gas
from a power plant to be captured for sequestration underground
or used for chemical transformation into fertilisers, for
example, he says.
The two German technology giants are now working on
solutions for demonstration plants the first are due on
stream in 2015 as well as large-scale power plants.
CO2 capture is expected to be used commercially in
coal-fired power stations by 2020.
In the future, BASF and Linde-KCA-Dresden GmbH (LKCA),
a subsidiary of the Munich group, also plan to jointly market
licenses and plants for the capture technology. In the Middle
East, for example, demand for purified CO2 is
increasing, in particular to raise yields in crude oil
production (by means of enhanced oil recovery) and in urea
In Spain, a special BASF gas treatment technology- similar
to the purification of syngas - is being used at the Integrated
Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant of ELCOGAS
in Puertollano that is planned to capture about 35,000 tpy of
gas. The plant, already in commercial-scale operation, is also
being used for demonstration purposes. It is expected to
provide a wealth of information relating to the viability of
the IGCC concept, which differs from the post-combustion
Across the Atlantic Ocean, the German chemical group and its
US subsidiary BASF Corp. have joined forces with RTI
International a high-tech think tank based in Research
Triangle Park in North Carolina to develop
second-generation capture technology. The project is being supported in part
by a $2 million grant from the US Department of Energy.
The partners will look into novel non-aqueous solvent
systems that can be recycled. The aim is to find a water
free capture process that could use 40% less energy than
Through the pooling of RTIs engineering and research
capabilities with BASFs technical and commercial
expertise in gas treatment, the aim is to clear a path for
rapid commercialization of the carbon capture technology and thus
enable cost-competitive clean energy production from coal-fired
In Japan, BASF has linked up with local companies JGC
and INPEX to perform demonstration tests with a new technology
for effectively capturing and recovering CO2
contained in natural gas. The tests were started in August 2010
at INPEXs Koshijihara natural gas plant in Nagaoka City,
To facilitate removal of the GHG, JGC and BASF in 2004 began
jointly developing the new CO2 capture process
called High Pressure Acid Gas Capture Technology
(HiPACT). According to BASF, this process shows a
significantly higher CO2 absorption,
compared with existing processes, and is capable of
regenerating the solvent under high-pressure conditions. An
important milestone will be to transfer the new technology to
an operating gas processing plant.
HiPACT is claimed to reduce overall power consumption in the
facility while also lowering investment costs. More
importantly, perhaps, because the gas is released from the
solvent at well above atmospheric pressure, BASF says there is
a significant reduction in the amount of energy required if
CO2 is used in high-pressure applications such as
chemical synthesis or is sequestered underground.
Building on the test results, JGC and BASF plan to
commercialize the HiPACT technology in all relevant
sectors, in particular natural gas projects with CO2
For more information, visit BASFs website by clicking here.