BASF, RWE in renewable energy deal

24th May 2021

BASF, RWE in renewable energy deal

BASF has agreed a deal with German energy giant RWE to source renewable electricity to make ‘green’ hydrogen production at its main site in Ludwigshafen. This will come from a 2-gigawatt offshore wind farm that already has at the planning stage. When complete, it will save 2.8 million tonnes/year of CO2 emissions at the site.

Dr Martin Brudermüller, BASF and his RWE counterpart, Dr Markus Krebber, signed the letter of intent in a ceremony at Ludwigshafen. The companies said that they also envisage a wide-ranging cooperation for the creation of additional renewable electricity capacity and using new technologies for climate protection.

However, Brudermüller warned that “innovative and intensive cooperation between politics and industry” will be needed to ensure that adequate volumes of electricity from renewable sources will be available to ensure the transformation of industry. It will also require a suitable regulatory framework”.

BASF added that a tendering process for offshore project sites where the current plans only foresee use after 2030 will be needed if policymakers want to significantly increase expansion targets for renewable energies and accelerate capacity additions. Such sites “should be specifically designated for tenders focused on industrial transformation processes”, it concluded.

Separately but in the same vein, BASF and US carbon recycling technology firm LanzaTech have announced a key advance in a project to transform the carbon from industrial off-gases into chemicals by making n-octanol from carbon monoxide and hydrogen via gas fermentation, at laboratory scale. This is used in cosmetics among other applications.

The two companies used a biological process that was originally developed by Professor Ramon Gonzalez of the University of South Florida, it and developed a suitable strain of bacteria. The joint team, which comprised biologists, biochemists and engineers, also developed a concept for continuous product generation and purification, all within the space of a few months.

“One advantage of this process is that the microorganisms are not particular about the composition of the exhaust gas, as they are able to utilise varying ratios of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and CO2,” BASF said. “The microorganisms are also tolerant to many different impurities, so there is no need for complex steps to purify the exhaust gas.”

In the next step, they will focus on optimising the biology and technology design to deliver an efficient production process. Further high-value chemicals are expected to follow in due course. BASF had made an unspecified investment in LanzaTech in 2019. The latter’s technology had already been used to transform exhaust gas from steel production into ethanol at commercial scale.

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