Role model within the Group
Evonik plans to invest a total of €700 million in production processes and infrastructure by 2030 to reduce its CO₂ footprint. On its way to becoming a climate-neutral Group, Evonik is investing in sustainable production at its Herne site.
Evonik started at an early stage to support its customers with innovative products and solutions to take new, sustainable paths and achieve their goals in terms of climate protection , circularity or biodiversity. To make chemical production sustainable as well, Evonik plans to invest a total of €700 million in production processes and infrastructure by 2030 to reduce its own CO₂ footprint. Next-gen technologies will help reduce resources, energy consumption and emissions. One innovation driver of this energy turnaround has emerged in Herne. Today, Isophoron products produced on a sustainable basis at the site are already part of the green energy transition. The aim of the holistic transformation concept "Herne Green Deal" is to make the plant completely independent of fossil fuels and raw materials in the long term. In this way, the site could become a model for a sustainable chemical industry in Germany.
Innovative district heating
Energy in the form of heat is one of the key components for the chemical industry. Making the best possible use of this heat and not wasting energy - i.e. releasing it unused into the atmosphere - has long been a core objective of the technical optimization of chemical plants. To ensure sustainable waste heat utilization, the Herne site now wants to feed the waste heat from its cooling towers, which has so far been unused because of the low temperature level, into the district heating network of the energy supplier Uniper. For the project, called TORTE ("Technical Options for Thermal Energy Recovery"), Uniper will install a large-scale heat pump at the site. The project was awarded first place by an independent jury in the 2023 Responsible Care competition organized by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). "The use of high-temperature heat pumps for district heating is still absolutely in its infancy - even more so when industrial waste heat is used for this purpose. In this respect, this is a very innovative project," said the jury, explaining its verdict.
Green building block water electrolysis
Green hydrogen is the missing piece of the energy transition puzzle. At its Herne site, Evonik is investing in a pilot electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen as a feedstock for the manufacture of isophorone diamine (IPDA), an important raw material for wind turbine rotor blades. Siemens Energy, as a cooperating partner, is also investigating how the electrolysis technology performs in the chemical environment. The project consortium of Evonik and Siemens Energy, named H₂annibal - in reference to H₂ for hydrogen and the former Hannibal coal mine in the immediate vicinity - was launched at the end of 2022 and will run until mid-2025. Up to now, Evonik has used hydrogen from fossil sources in Herne. In the future, green hydrogen will be produced directly at the site. An electrolyzer from Siemens Energy, which works by means of a proton exchange membrane (PEM), will be used. This is powered by renewable energies and can cover up to 45 percent of the demand for hydrogen with green hydrogen, as well as supplying an additional 100 percent of the oxygen required at the site. Operating the electrolyzer can save up to 12,000 metric tons of CO₂ per year. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the code 03HY131B.