Rohrdorfer has announced that the first CO2 separation plant in Germany is being built on-site of its cement plant.
This can be a significant breakthrough for reducing the carbon footprint of its daily operations.
The foundations for the plant are being built together with the Andritz Group and have already been put in place on the southern side of Rohrdorfer cement facility. The aim is to build a 25m (~82ft) tall pilot plant for CO2 separation in roughly a 30 sqm (~344 sq ft) area.
Cement contributes to 8% of total CO2 emission every year, and Rohrdorfer’s goal is to build another separation plant on-site to decarbonize such a hard-to-abate sector.
The captured CO2 would be used to make formic acid, which is an essential chemical found in cleaning products, disinfectants, and de-icing agents.
After the testing of the pilot plant, it was observed that 2 metric tons of CO2 captured each day could produce around 1800 liters of formic acid.
Head of Plant and Process Engineering at Rohdorfer, Dr. Helmut Leibinger, said that CO2 should be seen as a resource rather than a problem.
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The carbon extracted from CO2 can also be turned into formic acid, methanol, or ethylene, thus forming the starting material for a range of products typically sourced from fossil fuels.
The plant is expected to become operational by the end of June 2022 and capture a total of 2 tons of carbon dioxide every day, which is then set to be utilized in the regional chemical industry and form a circular economy.
To build this pilot plant, Rohrdorfer is paying about 3 million euros (just over $3.2 million). and the role of Andritz Group in the process is customizing the cement plant system to achieve optimum purity of CO2.
After the test
After the first plant test of the CO2 capture process, designers and Rohrdorfer engineers will expand the facility and derive formic acid from the captured carbon dioxide. This is expected to take place by the end of Autumn 2022.
Rohrdorfer has been running experiments in the laboratory since July 2021 to optimize the process of extracting formic acid from CO2 so it is perfectly fit for production in the pilot plants.
But in addition to formic acid that can be used as the basis of cleaning agents and other products, CO2 can be utilized in the food industry, as well, such as in the carbonation of mineral water, depending on its purity degree.
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Similar efforts in Germany are also being made by another cement manufacturer at LafargeHolcim’s Lägerdorf cement plant that is equipped with carbon capture.
This project will transform captured CO2 from the Lägerdorf plant into a synthetic fuel with green hydrogen. The approximate carbon capture capacity for the cement plant is about 1 million tons of CO2 per year.
Germany can protect the climate and lead to sustainable development once it starts using CO2 as a resource at scale.