Decarbonisation Technology - November 2023 Issue

Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) Addressing the carbon footprint of the petrochemical industry is paramount for its sustainability. Circular economy strategies introduce the concept of carbon capture and utilisation. The petrochemical industry is a substantial contributor to CO₂ emissions, often originating from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes. Rather than releasing this CO₂ into the atmosphere, innovative technologies are being developed to capture and utilise it as a feedstock. Waste CO₂, when combined with renewable energy sources, can be transformed into a range of valuable products, thereby closing the carbon loop and promoting circularity. Synthesising alternative fuels One of the most promising applications of waste CO₂ lies in the synthesis of alternative fuels. CO₂ can be chemically converted into hydrocarbons through processes like Fischer- Tropsch synthesis. By using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power, these hydrocarbons can be generated in a carbon- neutral or even carbon-negative manner. Synthetic hydrocarbons produced from waste CO₂ can serve as clean and sustainable alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. These fuels can be seamlessly integrated into existing infrastructure and used in transportation, aviation, and other sectors that rely heavily on fossil fuels. There are several ongoing researches, projects, and investments in the synthesis of alternative fuels such as dimethyl ether (DME), synthetic natural gas (SNG), and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using CO₂ as a feedstock. The development of innovative catalysts and reactors is the key factor for these processes. The process of converting waste CO₂ into alternative fuels involves several key steps: u CO₂ capture: Industrial emissions containing CO₂ are captured using innovative technologies such as absorption, adsorption, or membrane separation. Material development plays an important role in CO₂ capture. This step prevents the release of CO₂ into the atmosphere. v Hydrogen production: Green hydrogen is a pivotal element in this process. Electrolysis,

other chemical products. Liquefaction, on the other hand, uses heat and solvents to transform plastic waste into a liquid form that can be further processed into valuable materials. Chemical recycling offers several advantages over traditional mechanical recycling. It allows for the treatment of mixed or contaminated plastic waste, which is challenging to process through mechanical recycling. Mechanical recycling typically includes sorting, shredding, and reprocessing plastic waste into granules or pellets, which can be used as feedstocks for various applications. This process is particularly effective for plastics that have not undergone significant degradation and contamination. While mechanical recycling has been widely adopted in the industry, it has limitations. The process is often restricted to certain plastic types and requires careful sorting and separation of different polymers to maintain product quality. Mechanical recycling also faces challenges when dealing with heavily contaminated or degraded plastics, leading to a reduction in the quality of the recycled materials. The implementation of advanced recycling technologies requires collaboration among various stakeholders. Petrochemical companies, waste management entities, and recycling facilities need to invest in research and development to scale up these technologies and optimise their processes. Government support through policies and regulations can incentivise the adoption of advanced recycling technologies and promote the creation of a robust circular economy for plastics. By harnessing chemical and mechanical recycling technologies, the petrochemical industry can recover valuable materials from plastic waste and integrate them into new product life cycles. These technologies not only contribute to waste reduction but also reduce reliance on virgin fossil fuel feedstocks, promoting resource efficiency and environmental sustainability. Embracing advanced recycling technologies enables the petrochemical industry to be at the forefront of the circular economy movement, driving innovation, creating new business opportunities, and fostering a sustainable future.


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