Since 2009, RWE, Linde and BASF, have been researching new technology for separating carbon dioxide (CO₂) from flue gas. Tests have been ongoing at a pilot plant situated at RWE’s Niederaussem power station near Cologne. Current results indicate that the innovations developed could reduce energy input by as much as 20%.
Results of the practical tests were recently released and suggest that the new technology used to capture CO₂ can reduce energy input by approximately 20%. The new technology uses chemical solvents to reduce energy input and also offers superior oxygen stability, which impacts efficiency by reducing the overall solvent consumption.
RWE Power is Germany’s largest electricity provider and is currently investing significant sums in the construction of new, climate-sparing power plants. Dr Johannes Heithoff, Vice President of Research and Development at RWE Power, stated, “We are pleased with this breakthrough, which we have achieved by co-operating closely with BASF and Linde. By enhancing efficiency and accordingly reducing costs, we have created a critical success factor for carbon capture technology, which in our view is key to climate-compatible power generation from coal.”

Dr Andreas Northemann, Business Manager of Global Gas Treatment at BASF Intermediates division, responded, “We are very satisfied with the results of the practical tests too.” Similarly, Dr Aldo Belloni, a Member of the Executive Board of Linde AG, stated, “Further development of CO₂ capture technology for treating power plant waste gases is among the focal points of our activities aimed at clean energy generation.”
The pilot plant was established as part of the Coal Innovation Center at RWE Power. The global industrial gases giant, Linde’s, role in the plant was crucial during engineering and construction. There-after the chemical company, BASF has been responsible for developing the improved solvents to aid carbon capture processes.
Following the discovery of the energy efficient solvent, the partners are jointly working to provide demonstrations of the technology at large-scale power plants. The initial demo-plants are scheduled to come on stream in 2015, while the CO₂ capture technology is expected to be appropriated commercially by 2020. The pilot plant received added investment from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology to the value of €4m. Similarly, RWE Power is to spend approximately €9m on the scaling-up of the technology.
As a result of the solvent discovery, 90% of the carbon dioxide contained in the waste gas of a power plant may be captured for subsequent sub-surface storage or for chemical transformation.