24 July 2007
South African petrochemical company Sasol has become the first in the world to register a project that uses a secondary catalyst to convert the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into harmless nitrogen and oxygen, which could earn the company significant income through the sale of carbon credits.
Sasol said in a statement on Monday that a share of the revenue derived from the carbon credit sales would be invested in local community-based sustainable development projects.
A carbon credit – one credit is equivalent to a ton of carbon dioxide reduced – is a tradable permit scheme used as an incentive for countries and businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Countries that have signed the Kyoto Protocol have fixed quotas for greenhouse emissions. The protocol’s clean development mechanism allows businesses to generate carbon credits, which can then be sold or exchanged with businesses that have exceeded their quota limits.
Sasol Nitro, which commissioned its nitrous oxide emission abatement technology during the first quarter of 2007, expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of about a million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
According to the company, one ton of nitrous oxide has the greenhouse impact equivalent to 310 tons of carbon dioxide.
The technology will be used to reduce emissions at two nitric acid plants in Sasolburg in the Free State province and Secunda in Mpumalanga province.
“This is the first time that a project using a secondary catalyst has been registered as a clean development mechanism project in terms of the Kyoto Protocol,” said Sasol Chemical Businesses’ group general manager Reiner Groh.
The project offered “significant environmental benefits for Sasol, our local communities and South Africa,” Groh added.
Sasol said it had developed the project with assistance from MGM International, a specialist in the development of greenhouse gas emission reduction projects worldwide, and Heraues, a provider of catalyst technology for nitric acid production facilities.