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Takeda Unveils First Industrial Application of Natural Gas-Free Steam Generation in Pharmaceutical Industry in Partnership With Austrian Government and Institute of Technology

  • First Industry Project With Potential to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions up to 90 Percent for One of the Major Manufacturing Sites in Vienna
  • Innovative High-Temperature Heat Pump System Made in Austria Will Result in More Sustainable Pharmaceutical Production at Takeda Site
  • Pioneering Steam-Generating Heat Pump Operates Exclusively With 100 Percent Natural Refrigerants

Takeda (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) today announced project AHEAD (Advanced Heat Pump Demonstrator) in partnership with the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK);  the Climate and Energy Fund; and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. AHEAD is a New Energy for Industry (NEFI) project as part of the Austrian Science Technology Innovation (FTI) initiative "Flagship region Energy".

In the AHEAD research project, a natural gas-free steam-generating heat pump will be integrated into industrial operation for the first time, aiming to achieve a carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction of up to 90 percent at one of Takeda's major manufacturing sites in Vienna using only natural refrigerants. This project underpins Austria’s leading role in high-temperature heat pump research and is intended to serve as a practical example for the entire pharmaceutical industry as well as other industries aiming to reduce their CO2 emissions.

The innovation of this project is the steam-generating heat pump, which is operated exclusively with 100 percent natural refrigerants and combined with steam compressors to achieve the highest heat recovery temperatures to date. The AHEAD system can reach temperatures of 200-260°C, exceeding temperature needs of Takeda's steam supply, at 184°C, required for manufacturing.

“At Takeda we believe that collaboration is the only way to effectively accelerate our effort to reduce our common environmental footprint,” said Gunter Baumgartner, Global Head Engineering, Takeda. “It allows us to tap into the best technologies available. We are proud to support this pioneering project which again demonstrates how we turn our commitments into actions.”

“Reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions in our global operations before 2035 requires bold action and pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible,” says Michael Fisher, Global Head Environmental Sustainability and Compliance, Takeda. “Innovative projects like AHEAD need to be an integral part of our journey to net-zero.”

"Austria is committed to becoming climate-neutral by 2040. This important milestone requires a joint effort and Austria's industry plays a key role. Our collaboration with Takeda is a very good example of how we can bring an innovative concept to life,” said Volker Schaffler, Head of Energy and Environmental Technologies, Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), Austria. “When industry, research and administration develop solutions together and create the necessary conditions that are needed to achieve our climate and energy targets everyone will win including our citizens. We see our offers as a central lever for achieving our common climate goals."

Pharmaceutical Production Very Energy-Intensive

Pharmaceutical production is very energy-intensive because it requires cooling capacity and the ability to initiate chemical and biological processes, and to ensure a sterile production environment using heat and steam.

To date, a large part of the process heat demand in pharmaceutical production has been created by mainly using natural gas. The AHEAD project will replace natural gas with an innovative, steam-generating heat pump system from the company Sustainable Process Heat, which is combined with steam compressors to generate steam at 11 bar(a)/184°C. A CO2 reduction of up to 90 percent and complete net-zero CO2 emissions over a period of seven months per year will be achieved at Takeda's major manufacturing site in Vienna. This corresponds to 1,900 tonnes reduction of CO2 per year and brings Takeda one step closer to its goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its own operations before 2035.

The project team will also develop a concept for the replication of the AHEAD system for other Takeda locations in Austria and worldwide. In addition, the decarbonization potential of this technology is being investigated for other important industrial sectors with high energy consumption, such as the paper, chemical and food industries.

The AIT Center for Energy will develop an optimized operating strategy for the AHEAD system and the heat source (excess heat from the cooling supply), based on a comprehensive system model. A novel approach is being developed for the CO2 reduction potential. Process requirements and expected process changes, learning curves for high-temperature heat pumps based on the experience of the project and statistical data are combined.

Technical Foundation for AHEAD

The technical foundation of the AHEAD project is a CO2-neutral energy center already in operation at the Takeda location in Vienna using 100 percent natural refrigerants. These refrigerants are highly efficient and do not emit CO2.  

By centralizing the cooling of the site, it can also be used simultaneously for heat recovery. The excess heat from the refrigeration system is reused and heated to 65 to 70°C with a heat pump. This system is currently used for the heating water at the site.

Once operational, AHEAD will generate steam using the existing heat from the heating water system through another special heat pump. AHEAD is expected to begin operations at the end of 2024, and the final evaluation of the project for research purposes by the AIT is planned at the end of 2025. The research project is funded by the Climate and Energy Fund.

Takeda's Commitment to Environmental Sustainability

As a science-driven organization, Takeda remains committed to robust environmental sustainability goals aligned with current climate science. The company continues to be carbon neutral across its value chain (including scopes 1, 2, and currently estimated scope 3 GHG emissions1) since 2020 (for its fiscal year 2019 GHG emissions), delivered by a continued focus on internal energy conservation measures, an increased use of renewable energy and the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets. In 2022, Takeda announced an accelerated goal to achieve net-zero GHG emissions related to operations, including scopes 1 and 2, before 2035 and for its entire value chain, including currently estimated1 scope 3 GHG emissions, before 2040.2

In addition to its decarbonization efforts, Takeda has made natural resource conservation commitments supporting water stewardship, responsible waste management and biodiversity, and is also incorporating environmental sustainability principles into its product development stages to minimize the impact of products and packaging throughout their life cycles.

For more information on Takeda’s priorities in advancing environmental sustainability, please visit:

Takeda’s Environmental Investments in Austria

In Austria Takeda invests from large environmental projects to smaller environmental initiatives. In addition to the power supply from renewable energies from photovoltaic systems and a comprehensive program for waste reduction, an online monitoring system was established more than ten years ago in order to always optimally support supply systems in terms of energy technology. In addition, new solutions and technologies are continuously being reviewed and implemented. Each investment project is examined for sustainable and climate-friendly opportunities. Employee awareness activities and a dedicated biodiversity group also play a role. Some examples of how sustainability is integrated into the production process of pharmaceuticals are: recovery of process waste heat, electricity from renewable energy sources, reducing the number of refrigeration systems by switching to HFC-free, energy-efficient refrigerants. Takeda received the WorldStar Award from the World Packaging Organization (WPO) in 2022 for sustainable drug packaging used at the production site in Vienna. Takeda and its local logistics partner, launched a pilot project in December 2022 with an e-truck that is used for daily supply for the pharmaceutical production in the Vienna area.

About Takeda

Takeda is a global, values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to discover and deliver life-transforming treatments, guided by our commitment to patients, our people and the planet. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on four therapeutic areas: Oncology, Rare Genetics and Hematology, Neuroscience, and Gastroenterology (GI), with expertise in immune and inflammatory diseases. We also make targeted R&D investments in Plasma-Derived Therapies and Vaccines. We are focusing on developing highly innovative medicines that contribute to making a difference in people’s lives by advancing the frontier of new treatment options and leveraging our enhanced collaborative R&D engine and capabilities to create a robust, modality-diverse pipeline. Our employees are committed to improving quality of life for patients and to working with our partners in health care in approximately 80 countries and regions. For more information, visit 

About Takeda in Austria

In Austria, Takeda works along the entire pharmaceutical value chain: research & development, plasma application, production and sales. Takeda is Austria's largest pharmaceutical employer. Every day, more than 4,500 employees of which close to 3,000 are in Vienna contribute to ensuring that medicines from Austria reach patients around the world and have access to innovative medicines. Takeda's development and production sites are located in Vienna, Linz and Orth an der Donau. Takeda's Austrian product portfolio helps patients in areas such as oncology, hemophilia and genetic diseases, gastroenterology and immunology.

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