🏭 Old tires = door handles
Sinopec's new CO2 capture plant and BASF, Mercedes, and recycling tires
Good morning. Today marks the end of August, so be on the lookout for The Column's first monthly round-up this Friday!
From the condenser:
· Sinopec's new CO2 capture plant
· BASF, Mercedes, and recycling tires
· MOTD: phosphoric acid
Sinopec has officially started capturing CO2
Chinese oil & gas giant, Sinopec, has started-up its new CO2-capture plant at its Qilu refinery in east China.
While most of the world's hydrogen is produced by steam reforming methane (from natural gas), China gets most of its hydrogen by gasifying coal. Coal gasification produces syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide). That carbon monoxide is then oxidized to carbon dioxide with steam to make more hydrogen. The hydrogen is then used by the refinery, and the resulting stream of CO2 is emitted (until now).
Okay, so what's the deal here?
Sinopec started building this plant around this time last year and finished up construction in February. The plant will capture the CO2 produced at the coal-to-hydrogen site with the traditional amine scrubbing process, liquefy it, and then ship it to the Shengli oil field. The CO2 will be used out there for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
Sinopec is currently transporting that captured CO2 to the oil field by truck. Eventually they'll do this with a pipeline, and eventually they'll build more of these CO2 capture sites. Reuters is saying that they have two more CO2 capture sites in the works (no further details have been made available).
BASF is helping Mercedes use recycled tires
German chemical company, BASF, is working with pyrolysis oil producer, Pyrum, and vehicle manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, to use end-of-life tires (ELT) as the feedstock for car parts.
Every year, roughly 31 million tons of tires reach the end of their life. A decent amount of those tires actually find a useful second life—in Europe, about 40% of them get ground up and used as chips on playgrounds, sports fields, and in rubberized asphalt. The problem is that we're running out of demand from those applications and not coming up with enough new ones. So, if we want to increase recycling rates, we need to get more creative with how we handle these ELTs.
Breaking it down:
Tires may look rather simple at a glance, but if you cut one open you'd find a bunch of different layers and materials involved (most notably, natural rubber, synthetic rubber, and steel). Pyrum is going to take ELTs, shred them up, remove the metal and textile parts, and do pyrolysis on the rubber chips to produce pyrolysis oil and some coke. BASF will then blend that pyrolysis oil into naphtha before feeding it to one of its steam crackers. Since the composition of pyrolysis oil is similar to naphtha, blending at a low percentage should make pretty much the same products (ethylene, propylene, benzene, etc.).
Making good use of these ELTs is of primary interest to vehicle and tire manufacturers. In this case, BASF is going to polymerize one of those monomers so that Mercedes-Benz can offer "door handles made from tire waste". That's great for marketing, but blending a small percentage of this stuff into naphtha isn't a long-term solution. We’ll probably see larger commitments, like investments to increase pyrolysis oil cracking abilities, after a lot of these technologies prove themselves out and demand is confirmed.
Some more headlines:
- TotalEnergies promised to store CO2 generated from an ammonia plant in the Netherlands
- SABIC and SK Geo Centric plan to make more polyolefin plastomers
- TotalEnergies just sold its stake in a Russian oil field in response to the war
- The ACC is saying that U.S. chemical production rose in July
- The EPA is considering the addition of a phthalate, DINP, to the toxics inventory
Molecule of The Day:
Today's MOTD is a great conversation starter, it's phosphoric acid.
Independently discovered by by a couple of Swedish chemists, this molecule was first discovered as a component of bone ash in the late 18th century. Today, the world produces some 50 million tons of this stuff each year by mining ore and treating it with heat and other chemicals.
We need all of that phosphoric acid primarily because we need it to make phosphate fertilizers. Over 90% of all phosphoric acid is used to do exactly that (DAP,MAP, and TSP are the main 3). The rest of the acid ends up quite a few different places, including semiconductor manufacturing, toothpaste, and detergents.
The main companies producing all of this phosphoric acid are the same ones who mine the ore. That includes (in no particular order) The Mosaic Company, Nutrien, and even Solvay.
In case you're interested:
- Book: Admittedly, Perry's Handbook isn't cheap… but nobody has ever regretted buying this thing.*
- Podcast: Check out this episode on the resources available for science-based startups like Li-Cycle.
- Tip: Interested in buying alternative assets? Use MoneyMade to get started in crypto, art, wine, and more.*
- Safety Moment: Watch this video to get a crash course of how Pressure Safety Valves work, their main components, and their applications.
All views represent those of the author not their employer.