Clariant & Casale develop new ammonia catalyst for sustainable CO2 reduction

Meet AmoMax™-Casale: the sustainable, award-winning new ammonia synthesis catalyst jointly developed by Clariant and Casale. Thanks to significantly higher activity than previous catalysts, AmoMax-Casale makes ammonia production more efficient and less polluting than ever before.

Clariant & Casale develop new ammonia catalyst for sustainable CO2 reduction
Clariant & Casale develop new ammonia catalyst for sustainable CO2 reduction

The Birth of AmoMax-Casale

Producing ammonia (NH3) creates more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than any other chemical synthesis process. That’s why Clariant works relentlessly to enhance its ammonia synthesis catalysts, leading to step changes like the industry proven AmoMax 10, which changed the game of ammonia synthesis from magnetite-based to wustite-based catalysts. Now, there’s a solution that even surpasses the past generation AmoMax.

Born of Clariant’s catalyst expertise and Casale’s ammonia converter design know-how, AmoMax-Casale delivers an up to 30 percent higher efficiency factor, also thanks to a larger active surface area than previous generations of AmoMax. This striking performance surge significantly lowers the energy consumption of an ammonia plant, such leading to a major reduction in CO2 emissions.

Two Ways AmoMax-Casale Cuts CO2 Emissions

  1. The catalyst’s higher activity allows operation of the ammonia synthesis loop with considerably less pressure. This means the plant consumes less energy to produce ammonia, and hence generates less CO2 emissions.
  2. Higher catalyst activity means higher conversion, so the plant will consume less energy for the recirculation of the process gas in the reactor loop. Again, less CO2 is emitted.

More Rewarding, Less Polluting

The combination of a higher active catalyst with the Casale design of converter internals makes the difference. This means, a typical ammonia plant producing 1600 tons/day, would save potentially US$ 300,000 annually on energy costs, and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 85,000 tons over the catalyst’s average lifetime of 15 years. Furthermore, AmoMax-Casale is capable of increasing the ammonia production capacity by up to 5%.

Already Shining in First Commercial Reference

The benefits of AmoMax-Casale are not just theoretical. The catalyst has already proven its great performance in its first industrial reference at an ammonia plant in the Americas. The plant was upgraded to a Casale 3-bed interchanger using the AmoMax-Casale catalyst in late 2019 and is already reporting energy savings of 50,000 kcal/MT, which translates to an expected annual reduction of US$700,000 in costs, and 6.148 tons in CO2 emissions.

A Celebration of Innovation

While the partners are delighted about their joint achievement, it’s an added bonus to be recognized by respected peers.

That’s why we’re proud to announce that Clariant and Casale have won two awards: The Swiss Chemical Society’s Sandmeyer Award 2021 and this year’s prestigious ICIS Innovation Award for “Process with Best Benefit to the Environment and Sustainability”. Learn more about the ICIS Awards, and read their article about AmoMax-Casale.

AMOMAX-CASALE: PAST, PRESENT AND PLANS

We spoke to two experts leading the AmoMax-Casale collaboration: Marvin Estenfelder (ME), Head of R&D at Clariant Catalysts, and Ermanno Filippi (EF), Casale’s Chief Technology Officer.

When did you begin working on this project?

We started in 2016, so it took less than four years from research and development to its successful industrial application. (ME)

What led to the collaboration?

Casale was looking for a higher activity catalyst, specifically designed to match our ammonia synthesis converter technology. AmoMax-Casale is the result of strong multidisciplinary collaboration between our teams. (EF)

AmoMax-Casale has the first satisfied customer. What’s next?

There’s strong interest in AmoMax-Casale. It has already been selected for a second customer’s ammonia reactor, and we are confident that several new projects will be realized as of next year.

Will customers need to change anything in their current plants?

The only important consideration is that the reactor internals are designed and approved by Casale. However, an additional convertor revamp by Casale could further increase the process efficiency and consequentially financial benefits (ME)

Which end markets will benefit most from the new catalyst?

Currently, more than 70% of ammonia produced is used by fertilizer manufactures. In the future, energy markets will become increasingly important, as AmoMax-Casale can enable future blue and green ammonia production. (ME)

Will this open the ammonia market to wider demand?

AmoMax-Casale is an important step towards decreasing the energy demand and CO2 emissions of ammonia production. These are preconditions for blue and green ammonia which will play an important role in energy and hydrogen storage in the future, and enable zero-carbon power generation. (EF)

What’s next for the Clariant-Casale collaboration?

Casale and Clariant plan to continue to collaborate in further ammonia projects, as well as other future technologies that will help our customers achieve net zero CO2 targets. (ME)

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