PTQ Q1 2023 Issue

to produce high-quality transportation fuels. This can help the refining industry meet environmental and quality regu - lations with derivatives. The integration potential and synergy among the pro - cesses rely on the refining scheme adopted by the refinery and the consumer market. Process units such as fluid cata - lytic cracking (FCC) and catalytic reforming can be optimised to produce petrochemical intermediates to the detriment of streams that will be incorporated into the fuels pool. In the case of FCC, the installation of units dedicated to producing petrochemical intermediates (i.e., petrochemical FCC) aims to minimise the generation of streams towards transportation fuels production. However, capital investment is high once the severity of the process requires use of material with the noblest metallurgical characteristics (such as 316 S.S, Monel). The IHS Markit Company proposed a classification of the petrochemical integration grades, as presented in Figure 5 . According to the proposed classification, crude-to- chemicals refineries are considered the maximum level of petrochemical integration, where the processed crude oil is totally converted into petrochemical intermediates. Plastics recycling technologies As previously described, with growing petrochemicals demand, an increasing portion of crude oil derivatives has been applied to produce marketable plastics. Despite the higher added value and significant economic advantages compared to transportation fuels, the increase in plastics con - sumption and the resulting plastic waste is not sustainable. The demand for recycled plastics will increase signifi - cantly going forward, accelerated by consumer aware - ness, stricter regulations, and ESG/sustainability pledges assumed by players in the plastics market to minimise the industry’s environmental footprint. Some players have made public commitments to reach recycled content in their production in percentages that vary from 15 to 50% by 2025. Nowadays, just 9% of global plastics production is recycled, mainly through mechanical recycling processes. Mechanical recycling technologies have been successfully

Crude to chemicals

Rening + steam cracking + paraxylene complex

Integration level

Rening + steam cracking or rening + paraxylene complex

Rening + BTX extraction + Propylene


Figure 5 Petrochemical integration levels (based on IHS Markit, 2018)

applied, especially for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene (PE) which are applied to produce bottles. Regardless of this success, there are concerns and restric - tions related to using mechanically recycled plastics for the noblest purposes, such as food-grade packages, due to the contamination risk. Despite efforts related to the mechanical recycling of plas - tics, increasing volumes of plastics waste call for the most effective recycling routes to ensure the sustainability of the petrochemical industry through the regeneration of the raw material. In this sense, some technology developers have dedicated investments and efforts to develop competitive and efficient chemical recycling technologies for plastics. These advanced recycling technologies involve two pro - cessing routes: conversion or feedstock recycling and decom - position to recover the monomer of the polymer. Among the conversion routes (plastics to feedstock), one of the most applied technologies for plastics recycling is catalytic pyroly- sis, where the long polymeric chain is converted into smaller hydrocarbon molecules, which can be fed to steam cracking units to reach a real circular petrochemical industry. Another route is the thermal pyrolysis of plastics, incorporated in some commercial technologies, along with gasification. Another promising chemical recycling route for plas - tics-based conversion (plastics to feedstock) is the

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PTQ Q1 2023

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