Our eLECTRO project is exploring the recyclability of plastic waste streams into olefins by combining an innovative modular extruder for the optimal pre-treatment of plastic waste with an electrically heated reactor for the catalytic pyrolysis of plastic waste. The main product, plastic waste pyrolysis oil, will be used as a feed for steam crackers.
The 4th of November, Professor Kevin Van Geem gave an online keynote during the International Conference on Petroleum, Hydrogen and Decarbonation on “Empowering Chemical Engineering for a Net Zero Process Industry”.
Due to our increasing awareness of the impact of climate change on our society, unit operations in our manufacturing processes, including those in chemical industry, have to be greenified and made less dependent of fossil resources. One option is to use plastic waste or biomass, but this is less straightforward than what is generally believed. Additionally, there is so-called electrification of the chemical industry. This is still in its infancy but there are many scientific and technological challenges to be solved. These important but far from trivial energy and materials transitions require not only the introduction of new ways of heat management and other, often not yet fully explored, chemical conversion processes in which green electrons are used, but also the development of new materials including large-scale heating coils, easily chargeable battery systems as well as catalyst materials. For each of these developments, there is the issue of materials scarcity as well as durability as the introduction of these production processes should also be cost effective and overall more sustainable than the existing ones.