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New technology converts process gas into valuable materials

Published by
World Coal,

Following new technology developed in a collaborative project between the Schwelgern coke plant (KBS), ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions and Berlin Technical University (TU Berlin), the world’s first pilot plant installed on the works site of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg, Germany, is able to produce reduce emissions and convert gases into marketable products.

From converting gases generated during the production of coke, it is now possible to produce ammonium bicarbonate, which can be used as baking powder, as well as marketable materials, such as fertilisers and chemical propellants.

“There are coke plants all over the world. With this newly developed process, we want to give operators the chance to put their process gases to good use and increase the productivity of their plants,” explained Dr Holger Thielert from ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions. “For this, we have developed and patented a process that converts coke oven gases into valuable materials in an eco-friendly way. We can market this process worldwide and also retrofit it in existing plants.”

The new process begins with the production of coke, alongside iron ore the most important charge material for producing pig iron in the blast furnace.

“For this, coal is ‘baked’ at high temperatures in the coke plant. The hot gases generated by this process contain a number of substances. The pilot plant uses a complex process to scrub the coke oven gas. Adding carbon dioxide produces ammonium bicarbonate,” stated Dr Thielert.

The end products can be put to a range of uses: as nitrogen fertilisers, as propellants and foaming agents for plastics or porous ceramics and also in the food industry.

On the way to industrial scale use

Following successful tests in the laboratory, two researchers from TU Berlin were tasked with building the pilot plant in Duisburg.

“The key tests can only be carried out under real conditions,” explained Sebastian Riethof, a Scientist from TU Berlin.

As part of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe’s integrated iron and steel mill in Duisburg, it is reported that the Schwelgern coke plant offers ideal conditions for the test phase.

“If everything goes to plan here at the coke plant, the new process can also be used on an industrial scale. Initial results have been promising: “We are able to utilise 95% of the ammonia contained in the coke oven gas. Every hour the process produces 15 kg of solid materials from 15 m3 of coke oven gas and two cubic meters of carbon dioxide,” elaborated Riethof.

As a result of this level of efficiency, the chemical products have the ability to be manufactured at competitive costs.

Pilot plant reduces CO2 emissions

If the tests continue successfully, it is reported that this would be a real breakthrough in productivity and resource efficiency – also for the Schwelgern coke plant.

“Here in Duisburg, almost all process gases are already being recycled efficiently,” said KBS Managing Director, Peter Liszio. “If we can now manage on a long-term basis not only to produce marketable products from the coke oven gases for other sectors but also to reduce the CO2 emissions of the mill, that would be real value added with great environmental benefits.”

Continued positive progress could lead to this idea and plant type being implemented worldwide in the future.

Edited from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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