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A ‘greener’ route for making red pigments

By Gerald Ondrey |

Early this year, Lanxess AG (Cologne, Germany; www.lanxess.com) will start production of bright red iron-oxide pigments at its Ningbo, China production site. The production facility will utilize — for the first time — the Ningbo Process, a highly sustainable production process that the company has developed in a test reactor at its Krefeld-Ürdingen, Germany site. Compared to the traditional Penniman production process, which is already widely used in China for making yellowish-red pigments, the new Lanxess technology ensures substantial improvements in terms of sustainability. The new plant for iron-oxide red pigments in Ningbo is being designed for an initial synthesis capacity of 25,000 m.t./yr. The Penniman process is one of four routes that are used for making pigments of various shades of red. The Penniman red process produces particularly yellowish-red pigments. However, the process generates oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and wastewater that contains dissolved ammonium nitrate. While developing a “cleaner” and more sustainable process, Lanxess also discovered that the conventional route also produced significant quantities of nitrous oxide — a greenhouse gas (GHG) with a global-warming potential that is 300 times higher…
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