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The Swiss specialty chemical company Clariant has been awarded by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) with the prestigious Sustainability Leadership Award 2022. The accolade is in recognition of Clariant’s global climate initiative, in which the company offered a free load of its nitrous oxide (N2O) removal catalyst EnviCat N2O-S to ten nitric acid producers who did not have such an abatement technology in place yet.
Editorial office / Muttenz

Thanks to this initiative, the companies, with a combined annual nitric acid production of more than 2 million tons, will be able to reduce their N2O emissions by more than 4 million tons of CO2 equivalents annually. This translates into more than 860,000 gasoline passenger vehicles driven for one year. The catalyst is proven to effectively remove up to 95% of harmful N2O emissions.

Simple solution

About 65.5 million tonnes of nitric acid (HNO3) are produced globally every year, mainly as a base material for fertilisers. About half of all 500 nitric acid plants operate without N2O removal technology

Nitric acid production produces large quantities of N2O as a by-product, which is extremely harmful to the climate. N2O molecules remain in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years, which is 25 times longer than CO2 molecules. The effect of N2O on global warming is therefore almost 300 times greater than that of CO2. The annual emission of N2O from the production of nitric acid and its derivative adipic acid is equivalent to about 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

“This is a serious problem,” says Stefan Heuser, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Clariant Catalysts. “But the solution is simple.” EnviCat N2O-S is a convenient ‘drop-in’ that is easy to deploy and converts up to 95% of the greenhouse gas into harmless nitrogen and oxygen. The catalyst is already in use in more than 45 nitric acid plants worldwide. Together they help reduce annual N2O emissions by more than 20 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

Image: nitric acid unit in a fertiliser plant (Yasni/Shutterstock)