🏭 Methanolysis again
Eastman might molecularly recycle in Texas and Neste committed to Rotterdam
Good morning. Some interesting stuff in the more headlines section today—if any of those sound interesting feel free to reply and I'll cover one of those on Friday.
From the condenser:
· Eastman might molecularly recycle in Texas
· Neste committed to Rotterdam
· POTD: fishing line
Eastman might molecularly recycle in Texas
US-based chemical company, Eastman Chemical, might build a 160,000 ton per year molecular recycling facility outside of Houston, Texas.
Setting the scene:
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the polymer we use to make polyester clothing and most of our packaging. Its widespread use is what earned it the recycling number one. We make PET by the polymerization of two monomers: ethylene glycol (MEG) and terephalic acid (PTA) or dimethyl terephalate (DMT). Eastman's potential site would do the opposite via methanolysis by producing MEG and DMT monomers from PET.
Catching you up:
Back in February 2021, we saw Eastman announce plans to build their first PET methanolysis site in Kingsport, Tennessee. That 110,000 ton per year site should be completed by the end of this year (please reply if you work for Eastman and have an updated timeline). Then, about 5 months ago, Eastman announced plans to build a $1 billion 176,000 ton per year PET methanolysis site in France.
Committing to a third site would bring Eastman's PET methanolysis investment total to a whopping $2 billion—all announced in less than a year and a half. The technology isn't what's new here. It's the rapidly expanding demand for sustainably produced polymers that's new. Eastman can confidently invest in these sites because of that demand and because they'll probably upgrade those PET monomers into higher-value specialty polyesters (like Eastman's Tritan, instead of commodity-priced PET).
Neste committed cash to a new biorefinery
Finnish refiner, Neste, has announced plans to invest $2 billion in a new biorefinery that will double their current production capacity in Europe from 1.4 million tons per year to 2.7 million tons per year.
Bringing you up to speed:
Back in March 2020, Neste announced its intent to build another biorefinery in Europe (in either Porvoo or in Rotterdam). Then, in March 2021, the company decided that Rotterdam was the better fit, but told us they needed a year to make their final investment decision (FID). That FID was expected a few months ago, but then Russia invaded Ukraine and they decided to run the numbers again (this time with extra costs and uncertainty). As of Monday night, they have made that FID.
Wait, a biorefinery?
Most biorefineries out there refine vegetable oils (often from soybeans) to make products that resemble traditional refinery products (fuels and naphtha). This is done by hydrogenating the oils and then refining the product. Neste notoriously does this with animal fat waste and used cooking oil instead of vegetable oils, but as they continue to scale they may look to this list of future feedstocks.
The main driver for this investment is the increasing demand for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). That's because while we're on the cusp of electrifying cars, we're not on the cusp of electrifying planes, so SAF is looking like the only way the aviation industry can decarbonize.
Some more headlines:
- LyondellBasell just announced a very large $5.20 special dividend
- Indorama Ventures will provide Binhua with the technology for a new PO/TBA/MTBE plant
- Neste bought the rights to Alterra's thermochemical liquefaction technology (to the readers who work for Alterra—feel free to reply with more details on this)
- Henkel started up a new adhesives plant in Mexico
Product of The Day:
Today, we're breaking down fishing line.
If you're unfamiliar, a quick trip to the fishing section of your local sporting goods store should bring you up to speed—there is absolutely no shortage of options when it comes to buying fishing line. For the most part, fishing line is manufactured to be monofilament (a single strand), cofilament (take a wild guess), or fused (multiple filaments bonded to eachother).
No matter how it's manufactured, the line itself will pretty much always be made of a polyamide, polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), polyethylene (PE), or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). As far as monofilaments go, polyamides (like DuPont's Stren) have been the most popular for the last few decades, but PVDF and it's refractive index (which is close to water, making it less visible to fish) have gained some ground. Your braided and fused lines usually involve PET or ultra-high-molecular-weight PE. Lines for fly fishing are a lot more complicated, but are usually any of the above but coated with a layer of polyvinyl chloride.
In case you're interested:
- Podcast: Check out this episode on the resources available for science-based startups like Li-Cycle.
- Prominent Figure: Have you heard of Gore-Tex? Check out this article about the man who figured out expanded polytetrafluoroethylene.
- Course: Want to understand the major refining units like crackers and reformers? This will walk you through all of it.*
- Book: Maybe you've never heard of the Scientific Design company, but if you're in the industry, this one is worth a read.*
All views represent those of the author not their employer.