Decarbonisation Technology August 2022 issue


Syngas uses

Chemicals such as methanol and ammonia Integrated gasication combined-cycle power


Heavy oil


Renery residue

Synthetic natural gas



Synthetic hydrocarbon liquids Transport fuels Libricants

Organic materials, including wood chips and municipal waste



Figure 2 With gasification technology, a wide variety of feeds can be converted into syngas, which has many uses. Consequently, syngas can be seen as a key enabler for the energy transition

and petrochemicals working together within clusters. These ‘anchor’ projects enable smaller emitters to tap into the infrastructure and share the associated costs. Further, it enables one company’s waste streams to be repurposed as others’ value streams. For example, a steel producer can route the CO₂ and carbon monoxide it generates to other companies’ synthetic fuel projects. Profits from new products generated within the hub, which could eventually include ammonia and acetic acid, could be shared. Expanding use of biofuels With continued reliance on liquid fuels, though set against the need to reduce CO₂ emissions, biofuel use expands rapidly in the medium term. Four key synthesis pathways (see Figure 1 ) mean that a wide range of biofuels can be derived from many bio-feedstocks, thus increasing feedstock flexibility. Of these, gasification is the highest severity process and the conversion route of choice for bio-based and difficult-to-treat hydrocarbon feeds that differ significantly from the desired product. For example, it can break down feeds such as plastics and wood chips into syngas. The syngas can be used to create a wide range of chemicals or combined with the Fischer-Tropsch process to create liquid fuels – Shell is strategically prioritising the production of synthetic fuels produced from renewables, rather than from fossil sources – and very high-quality synthetic lubricant base oils (see

Figure 2 ). Indeed, the combination of gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology may be one of the most important technologies to grow during this period. Both are well-established but costly processes. Higher demand for low-CO₂ products and legislation should foster their viability. Low-CO 2 chemicals In the medium term, various low-CO₂ chemical technologies may be commercialised, such as the combination of biomass and plastic gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology to produce chemicals, using bio-glycols to create polyethylene terephthalate and using polylactic acid to create bioplastics. The use of chemical recycling may also increase. In recent years, Shell has started making chemicals from a liquid feedstock made from hard-to-recycle plastic waste using pyrolysis and intends to use 1 Mt/y of plastic waste in this way by 2025. PART 3: Technology trends in the long term In this period, which is broadly the 5-10 years from about 2035 or 2040 onwards, renewables will have become the primary energy source and many jurisdictions have 100% renewable energy. Hydrogen will now be a material energy carrier, and green hydrogen has achieved cost parity with blue. The multi-industry hubs referred to in Part 2 are capturing large volumes of CO₂, much of which is being cost-effectively sequestered in shared CO₂ storage sites. Oil production has decreased, but remains


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