Towards a Smaller Environmental Impact
Meeting the rising demand for energy worldwide while simultaneously reducing emissions will pose a huge challenge over the coming years. Resource conservation and climate protection are also growing in importance in the gas industry.
If renewable sources are to account for up to 90% of the EU’s energy mix by 2050, a range of measures needs to be implemented, including more efficient development of non-fossil energy sources and more widespread use of smart grids connecting power generation with consumption.
The business of producing industrial gases is energy-intensive, electricity and natural gas being main energy sources. Over 90% of the electricity consumed is used during air separation. Elements of the air together with gases from fossil sources form the natural cornerstones of Linde’s routine business. Air is comprised of different elements in varying proportions, including nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, and helium, each of these gases are important raw material.
Direct CO2 emissions in the gas industry arise primarily from hydrogen and carbon monoxide production in HyCO plants, in other words, plants that produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, or synthesis gas.
Indirect CO2 emissions arise as a byproduct of energy produced from third parties (electricity and district heating), rather than emissions at sites of industrial gas industry.
Cutting energy consumption, saving water
Cutting energy consumption, reducing hazardous substances released by combustion, and developing technologies targeted at renewable sources of energy define the gas industry’s environmental and climate protection agenda.
The HyCO plants of Linde account for about 90% of the company’s natural gas consumption. The company works closely with energy providers to develop technical solutions for greener electricity and fuels. Linde is also involved in research into carbon capture and storage
(CCS) technologies to separate carbon dioxide (CO2) from flue gas at coal-fired power plants.
To save water during production processes, the gas industry employs water circulation systems and replaces drinking water with grey water when possible. Water is mainly used in product manufacturing, steam generation, plantcooling processes, and office buildings.
The vast majority, around 80%, of the water consumed by Linde is used to cool the plants, either in circulation or oncethrough systems. With the latter, the water is sourced from local rivers and simply warms up a few degrees. Since it does not come into contact with any products, it can be safely pumped back into the river, obviously at a temperature that does not pose any risk to the surrounding ecosystem.
Moreover, there is ongoing work to collect carbon footprint information of products and applications in major industrial gas companies. The goal is to make the CO2 footprint calculations so that they are aligned with the methodologies used by key associations such as the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA).
Article published in Kemia 5/2011 (Finnish Chemical magazine)
Towards a Smaller Environmental Impact - Carbon footprint
The carbon footprint of a product which requires electricity in its production varies greatly according to the country it has been produced in. For example, the carbon footprint of liquid oxygen in the United Kingdom is approximately 800g CO2/Nm3 of oxygen, while in Finland it is about 300 g CO2/Nm3.
Due to the varying carbon footprint of gas delivery between countries, the environmental friendliness of gas-based applications is different in comparison with competing technical solutions.
In Northern European countries which use mainly hydroelectric and nuclear power, the gas applications have a smaller relative impact on the carbon footprint than, for example, in China or Germany which use a large amount of fossil fuel power.