thyssenkrupp rothe erde launches Germany's largest decarbonisation plant
Lippstadt. thyssenkrupp rothe erde is breaking new ground in climate protection: with a carbonisation plant that is unique in this form in Germany to date, the company is taking a big step towards reducing CO2 with an innovative technology. The plant is one of the forms of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), which refers to processes in which C02 is removed from the atmosphere and then permanently stored.
In the carbonisation plant, waste wood is carbonised in a pyrolysis process. This produces regenerative heat and plant charcoal, so-called biochar. "Our carbonisation plant is unique in its dimension in Germany and is the first time negative emission technology has been integrated in a German industrial group," explains Dr Wilfried Spintig, COO at thyssenkrupp rothe erde. "We use the heat generated by the pyrolysis process for our production site in Lippstadt and can thus cover around 40% of our heating requirements on site." This renewable heat replaces previously fossil fuels. For comparison: the heat produced in the plant corresponds to the annual demand of almost 300 four-person households.
The successful industrial integration of the carbonisation plant is made possible by a special cooperation: the carbon removal start-up Novocarbo GmbH is responsible for the quality assurance of the production process, distributes the biochar and produces and markets the resulting carbon removal certificates. The mechanical engineering company PYREG GmbH from Dörth supplies and installs the PX1500, the latest generation of its NetZero technology.
Jump-starting the decarbonisation of industry
In Lippstadt, unprocessed and uncontaminated wood is used as feedstock, consisting of packaging residues on the one hand and appropriately dried green waste on the other. Around 2,500 tonnes of residual wood are used annually to generate more than 5,300 MWh of heat and around 640 tonnes of biochar, which is used, among other things, as a soil conditioner in agriculture. "thyssenkrupp rothe erde will be climate-neutral by 2050, and to achieve this we are also constantly looking for new ways to implement decarbonisation at our company," explains Wilfried Spintig. "This plant is also a pilot project for us and, in our eyes, can be a building block for a meaningful jump-start on the way to decarbonisation for other industries as well."
1,500 tonnes of CO2 per year sequestered for thousands of years
The PX 1500 plant from the Rhineland-Palatinate technology specialist Pyreg is used in Lippstadt. "The decarbonisation plant creates 100% renewable energy, and external energy only needs to be supplied to start the plant," explains Jörg zu Dohna, CEO at Pyreg. This is because the carbonisation process also produces gases that keep the plant running autothermally, i.e. virtually by itself, once it has reached an operating temperature of around 700°. Heat still leads a shadowy existence among renewable energies: "While almost half of the energy for electricity already comes from renewable sources, the figure for heat is just two per cent," explains Jörg zu Dohna. "In this respect, charring is a 'double' climate protection instrument: it creates renewable energy and permanently binds the CO2 already sequestered in the green waste in the biochar."
Biochar as a climate-friendly end product
If, for example, green waste were simply left to rot, the CO2 stored in it by way of photosynthesis would be released in a climate-damaging way.
"One tonne of biochar binds approximately 2.5 to 2.8 tonnes of CO₂, depending on its carbon content and further use. The biochar is produced in a combustion-free process. If it is then used as a filler in building materials, for example, the CO₂ ends up in a permanent carbon sink and is stored safely for thousands of years," explains Caspar von Ziegner, CEO of Novocarbo, the market leader in the biochar sector.
The biochar produced in Lippstadt is currently undergoing testing for the European Biochar Certificate (EBC), a quality standard and control certificate. "Biochar is mainly used as a soil conditioner in agriculture, peat substitute in the earth industry, or in rainwater management for blue-green infrastructure projects," explains Caspar von Ziegner. In addition, biochar replaces fossil or high-emission resources in industry, for example moulded plastic parts, floor coverings or as an aggregate in concrete. "CO₂ removal from the atmosphere in combination with regenerative heat production and the diverse uses of biochar are important pieces of the puzzle of our climate-neutral society of tomorrow," says the Novocarbo CEO.