BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC, and Total-six European petrochemical giants, chaired by the Brightlands Chemelot Campus, have decided to form the Cracker of the Future Consortium, and invest in research and development to work towards transition to renewable electricity. The companies will be sharing knowledge as well to contribute to the research, as they aim to produce the base chemicals necessary in the industry, without the use of fossil fuels.
Base chemicals, used in the production of plastics, are produced by use of steam crackers. Being raw materials, base chemicals are a necessity in our world where the need for polymeric materials only continues to grow. So it is only practical to find better, more environmentally friendly ways to produce them.
According to the consortium, we can look at steam crackers as the principal opportunity if we really aim to minimize the emission of greenhouse gases due to chemical production. This is why one of the things that they would like to consider is to use renewable sources of energy to power the equipment. This would visibly reduce cracker emissions, as well as the carbon footprint of petrochemical products.
However, the concept is obviously as challenging as it is beautiful. A few concerns that the consortium has, are the concept's technological and economic feasibility in comparison with existing processes employed in the industry, how to achieve successful integration into a low-carbon value chain, and of course, implementing their formulated solution timely in order to meet regulation requirements.
To be funded by industry and national and European governments, the companies are to choose the technologies to pursue before the end of this year. They plan to then open a pilot plant for a low-carbon cracker by 2030, and eventually commercialize the process by 2050.
"This is a unique collaboration that aims to reduce our industry's carbon footprint for the betterment of society as a whole," says Brightlands Chemelot CEO, Bert Kip. "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."