The SPIN research project CO2NEICHEM is developing concepts for the necessary energy and raw material turnaround using the CHEMPARK as an example. The aim is to develop a continuous and reliable, competitive, cross-sectoral and efficient supply of electricity, heating and cooling based on renewable energies, taking into account the required infrastructure. The particular challenge here is that chemical production processes are predominantly very heat-intensive and to a small extent require process steam at high temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius. Partners of the SPIN project are Siemens Energy, CURRENTA and the Ruhr University Bochum.
Numerous production processes in the chemical industry are heat-intensive processes that continuously require process heat in the form of process steam with temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius at high output and with high supply reliability. The demand for process steam in the chemical industry is foreseeably expected to remain constant, subject to disruptive process innovations. Beyond a climate-neutral power supply, a CO2-neutral heat supply is thus of outstanding importance for the production sites of the chemical industry.
The technologies required for this are currently based in part on developments that are also needed for CO2-free peak-load or backup power plants. For the requirements of chemical industrial sites, however, they must be significantly adapted in terms of integration and technical design so that process steam can be provided on a priority basis and site-specific security of supply can be guaranteed.
Energy supply to date
Today, process steam is supplied via steam networks at different pressure levels, fed from plants for the combined generation of electricity and heat and with waste heat from production plants or waste disposal facilities. Natural gas and, to an ever lesser extent, coal are used as fuels. The CHP plants are predominantly operated on a heat-led basis, i.e. additional electricity demand is covered from the higher-level grid in addition to CHP generation. The plant operation ensures a continuous and secured heat supply and uses the CHP plant flexibility to integrate a volatile green power supply and contribute to the stabilization of the power system.
Necessary adaptation processes, possibilities and requirements
A sustainable CO2-free heat supply on an industrial scale can in principle be achieved by using various alternatives. It would be possible to generate process heat from fluctuating renewable electricity in the form of PV and wind power, with heat generation being electrothermal or using environmental heat and previously unused low-temperature waste heat (usually below 100°C) through heat transformation.
Another alternative is the energetic use of chemically stored renewable energies, for example in the form of green hydrogen and synthetic energy sources such as power-to-X.
Innovative developments of the SPIN project partners
Within the framework of CO2NEICHEM, the consortium partners are developing an energy system model for an ideal chemical park for techno-economic analysis and optimization. The studies will incorporate innovative technologies such as hydrogen-fueled steam-gas turbines, high-temperature heat pumps, and thermal storage systems with steam and electricity storage. As a research outcome, the SPIN project will evaluate alternative energy supply systems and develop a detailed concept for the application of the favored system for a demonstration application.