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RWE, BASF and Linde’s scrubbing plant in Niederaussem

Brief description:


Main developer: RWE

Country: Germany

Project type: Capture

Scale: Small

Status: Operative

Capital cost: € 9 million

Year of operation 2009
Industry: Coal Power Plant

Capture method: Post-combustion

Capture technology: Amine
Transport of CO2 by: none

Type of storage: Not decided

Volume: 2 000 tonnes/CO2


Scrubbing Pilot Plant

The German electricity producer RWE is cooperating with the chemical company BASF and the Linde Group on a research project on post-combustion technology at RWEs power plant Niederaussem.

The project entails the construction and operation of a CO2 scrubbing pilot plant. Phase 1 of the project started in July 2009. At the pilot plant all aspects of CO2 scrubbing was trialed for 18 months under real power plant conditions to examine their functioning state and gain experience for later commercial scale systems. The aim of the project is to reduce efficiency losses and costs associated with post combustion technologies to €30/t of CO2 through energy optimized amine scrubbing solvents supplied by BASF, and improvements in the process and plant technology.
The cost of the Phase 1 mounted to € 9 million, of which the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is contributing with 40%.

In fall 2010, RWE, BASF and Linde presented the results of the research project: They have advanced a CO2 scrubbing solvent, which can achieve a separation efficiency of 90%, high purity and much lower energy input. Compared with processes commonly used today, the energy input can be reduced by about 20% when using the new chemical solvent for CO2 capture. The development, they claim, could speed the adoption of carbon capture & storage, particularly in the coal-power generation sector.

Following these promising results, the partners will now carry out long-term tests in Niederaussem in a phase 2 of the project. This new project phase will run from March 2011 until the end of 2013. Overall, € 6 million will be invested, as further process-engineering optimizations are made to the plant, according to a BASF statement. Germany’s ministry of economics and technology is sponsoring the innovative project with around € 4 million.

In the test phase starting in spring 2011, the structure of the CO2 absorber, where the CO2 is removed from the flue gas, is to be optimised by Linde so that carbon dioxide can be removed even more effectively from the flue gas. If the test is successful, CO2 absorbers for large-scale power plants, for example, could be made smaller and hence less costly. The reconstruction is starting in the middle of the year and will be complete by the end of the year.

Technical details:

Linde is responsible for engineering and the construction of the pilot plant and has been constructing the pilot at the 1,000-MW lignite-fired unit BoA 1. BoA 1 is with a net efficiency of over 43% the most advanced and efficient lignite-fired unit worldwide. It is equipped with optimized plant technology and is the forerunner to the two power plant units BoA 2&3 being built at the Neurath site. In Niederaussem, the carbon capture technology to be developed can thus be adapted to this type of power plant in an ideal manner.

The height of the pilot CO2 scrubbing plant (40 m) corresponds to that of the future commercial plant. The plant also comprises all individual components of large plants, but on a smaller scale. The diameter of the absorber column was limited to the size required to obtain representative results.

To operate the pilot plant a small amount of the flue gas (0.05%) is diverted from the BoA unit and fed into the pilot plant. Depending on the set test parameters, up to 300 kg CO2 per hour can be separated from a flue gas bypass (corresponds to a capture rate of 90 %). The scrubbed CO2 is fed back into the fluegas stream of the BoA unit, since currently no storage options exist at the site.

The project will be linked to other pilot projects undertaken at the site such as the WTA process developed by RWE in order to compensate for the efficiency losses associated with capture. The goal is to make carbon capture technology utilizable for the retrofit of existing modern plants or new power plants by 2015.


Phase 1: Started construction 2009, 18 month test period.

Phase 2: March 2011- end of 2013


External links:

The engineer, 11 March 2011

Contact info

Main developer: RWE

Companies involved