Borealis Agrolinz Melamine GmbH, the sister company of Borealis L.A.T, has been able to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at its Linz facilities by nearly 60% during the years 1990 to 2010, despite somewhat increased production levels. Overall, energy efficiency rose nearly 20% from 2001 to 2010.
In conformance with international climate change agreements, Austria has been obliged to lower the levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 13% from the years 1990 to 2008 and now by 2012. The Austrian climate protection policy created in June 2002 by the Cabinet defined sector objectives and measures for the reduction of emissions. Based on conditions prevailing in 1990, Austrian industry was expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than one million tonnes despite concurrent growth in production levels. Energy-intensive companies have been especially challenged by the planned participation in the EU-wide emissions trading system scheduled for 2005. They are obliged either to invest in climate protection measures or to purchase additional emission allowances.
Laughing gas is commonly used for medical purposes and by the food industry, for example as a propellant in whipped cream canisters. Laughing gas is safe for humans when directly ingested. But laughing gas is also a greenhouse gas whose effects are 310 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
Most important were investments in the area of nitric acid production. During the production of nitric acid, laughing gas is created as an unwanted by-product of oxidation. In 2003, Borealis Agrolinz Melamine GmbH outfitted one of its facilities with a new technology made by Uhde, the first of its kind in nitric acid production facilities. This technology led to a 99% reduction of laughing gas emissions and additional reductions in NOx emissions from 90 ppm to nearly zero. In 2009, another technological advancement was installed in a second nitric acid production facility, which in turn led to a 98% reduction in this facility's emissions.
Both projects were initiated voluntarily. And both set new standards in the avoidance of air pollution by nitric acid production facilities. These major steps towards environmental protection were publicly lauded when the city of Linz bestowed their environmental award, the Linzer IRIS 2009, on this facility.