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Without carbon dioxide, there would be no plant life, because in order to grow, plants need CO2 as well as light for photosynthesis. This biological law is the foundation for the joint venture OCAP (Organic CO2 for Assimilation by Plants) that Linde has begun in the Netherlands with the Volker-Wessels construction company. Instead of "aerating" the country's many greenhouses with CO2 from gas heaters in order to promote the growth of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, OCAP supplies greenhouses between Rotterdam and Amsterdam with carbon dioxide that a Shell refinery near Rotterdam had previously emitted into the atmosphere.
A smaller part of the emissions is supplied to the food industry, which uses it to extend the shelf-life of products. The emitted carbon dioxide, which was previously unused in the winter, is brought to empty natural gas fields. The local capacities are adequate for storing the next 30 years' worth of emissions.
Via an 85-kilometre long transport pipeline and a circa 300-kilometre long distribution network, the company currently supplies around 356,000 tonnes of CO2 to over 550 greenhouses. In comparison: This saves the combustion of 105 million cubic meters of natural gas and avoids emissions of 190,000 tpa of CO2 – a volume that corresponds to the emissions of a Western European city with 150,000 inhabitants. In addition, a further but substantially smaller part of the carbon dioxide is liquefied by Linde year-round and sold primarily to the food industry. Currently, we are working on expanding the pipeline. This will allow larger quantities to be discharged from the refinery processes and stored into empty natural gas fields off the coast of the Netherlands.