Six petrochemical companies from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have created a consortium to investigate the possibility of replacing fossil fuels with renewable electricity in the operation of naphtha or gas steam crackers.
Comprising BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, the Cracker of the Future consortium aims to explore electrical cracking to produce base chemicals while reducing carbon emissions.
Steam crackers produce base chemicals such as ethylene, propylene, butadiene and BTX, which are then transformed into plastics to be used in lightweight vehicle components.
The firms agreed to invest in research and development as they evaluate the feasibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.
Although using electricity produced from renewable sources reduces cracker emissions, a major challenge in developing electrical cracker technology is to ensure that the solution is technologically and economically viable as against the existing process. Furthermore, it has to fit into a future low-carbon value chain.
Following the agreement, the consortium members will explore and test technical options. In the event a potential technical solution has been identified, the firms will evaluate whether to pursue joint development project, including R&D activities, which could consist of a demonstrator for proof of concept for base chemicals.
The six members of the Cracker of the Future Consortium is chaired by the Brightlands Chemelot Campus.
Brightlands Chemelot Campus CEO Bert Kip said: “This is a unique collaboration that aims to reduce our industry’s carbon footprint for the betterment of society as a whole.
“It demonstrates the commitment of our industry to collectively seek technological solutions to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from our operations. We are proud to have taken this first step together and look forward to the successes that lie ahead.”
Source: Chemicals Technology
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