Covestro at the German Innovation Award 2020

07 April 2020

Among numerous innovative projects and business models, the German Innovation Award jury has honoured Covestro as one of three finalists in the category "Major Companies" for the development of a new technology for chlorine production – the oxygen depolarised cathode (ODC).

The award honours outstanding, groundbreaking innovations developed by German companies, which are improving markets and industries with their innovative capabilities.

It is awarded under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Economics by the magazine WirtschaftsWoche, the consulting firm Accenture and the energy supplier EnBW.

"We congratulate the company Dürr on winning first place," is how Dr Klaus Schäfer, Chief Technology Officer of Covestro, commented on the result.

"We have made the leap into the group of the best which comprises a large, strong field.

"This nomination by an independent jury of experts reflects the high level of our innovative strength and the outstanding expertise and engagement of our employees, who made this success possible in the first place."

Covestro employee Andreas Bulan and his team, together with Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers, were responsible for developing the ODC technology.

It is based on the conventional membrane method, which uses rock salt, water and electricity to form chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen.

The ODC process replaces the usual hydrogen-producing electrode with an oxygen depolarised cathode.

This suppresses the formation of hydrogen, leaving only chlorine and caustic soda lye.

What’s so special about this process is that the voltage required is only about two volts instead of three.

Energy consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by up to 25%.

This means that the constantly growing demand for the basic chemical chlorine can be met in a much more resource- and environmentally friendly way than before.

And that’s not all: with the same plant size, the new process can produce about 30% more chlorine.

"Our innovation has two positive effects at the same time: lower emissions in generating the required electricity and more efficient management of – ideally – regenerative energies," says Hanno Brümmer, who is responsible for the production of base chemicals at Covestro.

"We have successfully mastered this challenge with persistence throughout a long process."

Worldwide, about 80Mt of chlorine is currently produced annually – and the trend is rising.

If this were to be based entirely on ODC technology, some 35Mt of CO2 could be saved worldwide each year.

At the same time, the potential of this technology extends far beyond the production of chlorine: it can also be used, for example, in stationary energy storage systems, for enhanced power generation from hydrogen or for decentralised water treatment.

Covestro uses ODC technology in a chlorine production plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen and is currently constructing the first large-scale production plant based on ODC technology at its Spanish site in Tarragona.

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