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馃彮 Like electrolysis, but with plasma

Tosoh and MCC's CO2-based isocyanates, Graforce's methane plasmalysis, and athletic shoes.


Good morning. Are you familiar with plasma-based chemical reactions? I'd love to hear from you!

From the condenser:

Tosoh and MCC's CO2-based isocyanates

Graforce's methane plasmalysis

POTD: athletic shoes


Using CO2 to make isocyanates

Japanese petrochemical companies, Tosoh and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical (MCC), are looking to use CO2 to make dialkyl carbonates and isocyanates instead of using phosgene.

Wait, what are they making?

Dialkyl carbonates and isocyanates are phosgene derivatives that we use to make polycarbonates and polyurethanes, respectively. We make dialkyl carbonates by reacting some alcohol with phosgene, and we make isocyanates by reacting some amine with phosgene. It sounds like Tosoh wants to skip the phosgene, perhaps by doing something like this or like this, but it's possible that they'd like to make phosgene by reacting chlorine with CO2 instead of carbon monoxide.

Okay, so what's the deal?

Tosoh and MCC's R&D teams are basically just working with a bunch of different academic partners to develop a more sustainable route to polycarbonates and polyurethanes. The partnership submitted a proposal to Japan鈥檚 New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and was selected for funding.

Zooming out:

Since phosgene is made from chlorine, and neither molecule lends well to transport, it's normal to see chlor-alkali operators integrate downstream from caustic soda and chlorine production into polyvinyl chloride or into polycarbonates and polyurethanes. If Tosoh and MCC are looking to skip the phosgene intermediate, then their existing chlorine streams would need to find another non-captive market.


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Graforce is trying plasmalysis for hydrogen

German hydrogen startup, Graforce, is going to develop its methane plasmalysis process technology with help from Worley.

Hydrogen 101:

Pretty much all of the world's on-purpose hydrogen is made by steam reforming natural gas, which produces CO2, so we鈥檝e been looking at more sustainable alternatives like steam natural gas reforming but with carbon captured strapped on (blue hydrogen), methane pyrolysis (turquoise hydrogen), and water electrolysis (green hydrogen). What we're talking about here is something that hasn't come up before: methane plasmalysis (color TBD).

Okay, so what's that?

Plasmalysis is just plasma electrolysis, where electricity isn't just being used to drive a reaction across an electrochemical cell, but it's also being used to create a plasma: an ionized gas. In that ionized gas electrons are no longer bound to their initial gas atoms, which leaves the electrons free to react with other molecules. The general idea here is to drive the reaction by any additional non-thermal means.

One step back:

Graforce's technology has most of green hydrogen's sustainability appeal, but with turquoise hydrogen's inputs and outputs. That's interesting because in the case of turquoise hydrogen, you can sell both hydrogen and carbon black, versus with green hydrogen you can sell both hydrogen and oxygen.

Some more headlines

  • A bunch of large chemical companies are building an R&D hub for plastic waste processing

  • Neste and PetroCard are partnering up to expand access to renewable diesel

  • Honeywell introduced technology for new class of e-fuels based SAF

  • ICIS is reporting that Clariant wrapped up its specialty chemicals realignment

  • Albemarle is looking into DLE to boost its lithium extraction in Chile

Product of The Day

Today, we're breaking down athletic shoes.

When people buy athletic shoes they consider a bunch of different factors. Stuff like comfort, fit, durability, brand, and appearance are what determine the pair we walk out with. We owe it to the shoe companies for designing these things and to the shoe manufacturers for putting them together鈥攂ut who is responsible for the materials they are made of?

You'll find that closed cell foam made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) makes up most of the midsoles out there (thanks to its low density and high elasticity). But recently some polyurethane foams, most notably BASF's Infinergy, has gained popularity for its use in Adidas' Ultraboosts. Aside from those two main materials the rest of the shoe is mainly rubbers, adhesives (here's a good list), and polyester fabrics.

The reboiler

  • Course: Want to understand the major refining units like crackers and reformers? This will walk you through all of it.*

  • Podcast: Check out this episode featuring a former Global R&D Director at Dow Chemical about sustainability and circular economy.

  • Safety Moment: To protect equipment from the effects of high pressure, use this as a reference for your future work.

The bottoms


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