A waste to chemical facility is to be developed in Rotterdam following a deal involving a consortium of companies comprising Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Enerkem and the Port of Rotterdam.
According to Canadian firm, Enerkem, the facility will be the first of its kind in Europeto provide a sustainable alternative solution for non-recyclable wastes, converting waste plastics and other mixed wastes into new raw materials.
Vincent Chornet, President and Chief Executive Officer of Enerkem explained that as part of this consortium, Enerkem will be the technology provider, lead contractor as well as an equity partner in the project.
The company explained that today methanol is generally produced from natural gas or coal. The plant will have two production lines, or twice the input capacity of Enerkem's commercial-scale plant in Edmonton, Canada. It will benefit from the state-of-the-art infrastructure available within the Port of Rotterdam, as well as synergies with Air Liquide (large industries) for supplying the required oxygen and together with AkzoNobel, the raw material hydrogen. AkzoNobel also acts as a customer for the methanol.
The initial investments, which cover detailed engineering, the setup up of a dedicated joint venture and completing the permitting process, will be worth €9 million. The consortium aims to take the final investment decision (FID) for the estimated €200-million project later in 2018 and has appointed Dutch Rabobank as the lead advisor for the financing process.
Realisation of the project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate policy, which have agreed to develop mechanisms and regulation that will help bring this new technology to full scale to support the low-carbon transition of the Dutch economy.
The waste to chemistry project is also supported by the City of Rotterdam, the Province of Zuid-Holland and InnovationQuarter, the regional development agency.
The facility will convert up to 360,000 tonnes of waste into 220,000 tonnes (270 million litres) of 'green' methanol. As an equivalent, this was said to represent the total annual waste of more than 700,000 households and represents a CO2 emission savings of about 300,000 tonnes.
"The agreement comes at a very appropriate time given the current challenges in plastics recycling in Europe,” said Marco Waas, Director RD&I at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, who leads the consortium's Steering Committee.
“We can convert non-recyclable waste, into methanol, an essential raw material for many everyday products, including low carbon transportation fuel. Not only can this be used in the existing supply chains and replace fossil sources, but it also avoids CO2 emissions otherwise produced by burning waste," Waas added.
The facility will be built within the Botlek area of the Port of Rotterdam using Enerkem's proprietary technology, and will convert non-recyclable mixed waste, including plastics, into syngas and then into clean methanol for use in the chemical industry and for the transportation sector.
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