Environmental impact of the precious metal value chain on refineries
Heraeus Precious Metals offers a wide range of recycling ser- vices for all precious metals including platinum, palladium as well as rhenium. Capitalising on its many decades of global leadership, Heraeus is contributing positively to the environ- ment by making circular economy for precious metal products accessible to various industries. Through hydrometallurgical processes, the company converts spent precious metal con- taining catalysts like reforming, isomerisation or hydrogena- tion catalysts back into precious metals in the required form at highest purity levels. Heraeus’ services include thermal treat- ment, sampling and analysis, precious metal recycling, and sup- port in logistics and waste management.
Alexander Wiese Heraeus Precious Metals
leum industry to be 8553 kg globally, leading to a total GHG emission savings potential of around 271 million kg CO 2 -eq per year for the petroleum industry using secondary instead of market- grade metals. Although this represents less than 1% of the industry’s GHG emissions, it remains a quick and easy approach to optimise the carbon
The world is aligned to fight climate change and has set challenging climate targets, which are shown, for exam- ple, in the Paris Climate Agreement. Furthermore, the EU and US aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and China by 2060. Europe is well positioned to play a leading role in this effort with the established Emissions Trading System and the Green Deal, which incentivise the innova- tion of low carbon technologies. These aspirational goals put pressure on all industries to implement actions that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One example is the carbon-intensive oil refinery industry. This traditional sector is facing an increasingly dynamic business environment, driven by government ini- tiatives, changing customer trends (e.g. less fuel demand due to e-mobility), and even by banks or investors who increasingly integrate climate aspects into their decision- making. However, the companies in the refinery industry stepped up to tackle these challenges and have set ambi- tious climate targets for themselves. Among others, precious metals catalysts like reform- ing catalysts are impacting refineries’ emissions for pur- chased goods and services. The International Platinum Group Metals Association (IPA) recently conducted a life cycle analysis study on the environmental impact of plat- inum group metals (PGMs) with the example of automo- tive catalysts. Comparing the carbon footprint of primary (mining) and secondary (recycling) metals, PGMs showed a significant CO 2 saving potential for recycled PGMs of up to 98.5% compared to primary PGMs from mines. The main reason behind the significant CO 2 footprint for pri- mary PGMs frommines is the energy-intensive mining pro- cess. To extract 2-6 grams of PGMs, one ton of ore must undergo extensive processing. Furthermore, coal is used as an energy source in South Africa, which is the industry’s biggest PGM mining country. When looking at the carbon footprint of recycled PGMs in detail, the IPA study states that with 65% the smelting/ pyrometallurgical process is the main contributor to the carbon footprint of recycled PGMs from automotive cata- lysts. The hydrometallurgical refining step only accounts for 35% of the carbon footprint. From the study, we can deduct that by using only hydrometallurgical processing in the recycling of other materials, the lowest carbon foot- print can be achieved for recycled PGMs. Thus, from a sus- tainability standpoint, this type of processing seems to be preferable. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasise that any recycling effort produces important environmen- tal benefits, most notably the reduction of that industry’s carbon footprint. From the IPA study we learned that precious metals from secondary sources are a good intermediate solution to significantly reduce GHG emissions for PGM catalysts, while primary precious metal producers and recycling companies are working vigorously towards carbon neu- trality. However, the quantity of secondary precious met- als is limited. Primary metals from mines are crucial to supply the total market demand. In 2021, primary metals will account for around 75% of platinum supply, while only one-quarter of supply will be secondary metals via recy- cling. Reforming catalysts are already managed within the recycling loop. Nonetheless, it is critical that these second- ary metals are certified by recycling companies, because currently market-grade platinum, specifying metal purity only, is returned into the loop. The certification will be cru- cial for transparent carbon accounting and a company’s carbon footprint impact. Following the law of demand and supply, increased demand for certified low carbon metals can drive prices for these limited available metals. Nevertheless, it is certainly a worthwhile investment. In 2021, SFA Oxford projects the demand for fresh platinum used in catalysts for the petro-
footprint of refineries in the short term. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
our Mesoporized zeolites really deliver
We deliver accessible zeolites optimized for any catalytic application, showing strong activity and selectivity benets worth several millions per year. The superior performance makes rening more protable, exible and sustainable.
Zeopore’s technology platform offers commercially relevant catalytic benets:
• Proven benets in FCC, hydroprocessing, methanol conversion and renewable feed processes • Applicable to any zeolite or zeolite-like material • High tunability of the zeolitic properties • Preservation of intrinsic properties of the zeolite • Low-cost and environmental-friendly processing
The zeolite innovations of Zeopore also serve as the fundament in emerging markets such as the valorization of biomass or waste plastics, thereby contributing to the ongoing sustainability shift in the industry.
Zeopore Technologies NV Interleuvenlaan 23, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
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