Circular use of plastics-transformation of existing petrochemical clusters into thermochemical recycling plants with 100% plastics recovery
Journal article, 2019

Plastics represent a serious waste-handling problem, with only 10% of the plastic waste (PW) generated world-wide being recycled. The remainder follows a linear economy model, involving disposal or incineration. Thermochemical recycling provides an opportunity to close the material cycle, and this work shows how this can be achieved using the existing petrochemical infrastructure. The transformation of a generic petrochemical cluster based on virgin fossil feedstocks into a cluster that is based on PW has the following proposed sequence: (1) the feedstock is partially replaced (45% on carbon basis) by PW; (2) the feedstock is totally replaced by PW; (3) the process undergoes electrification; and (4) oxy-combustion and carbon capture and storage are introduced to achieve 100% carbon recovery in the form of monomers or permanent storage. An alternative transformation pathway that includes the introduction of biomass is also considered. The energy and carbon balances of the proposed implementation steps are resolved, and cost estimates of the savings related to the feedstock and required investments are presented. The main conclusion drawn is that switching the feedstock from virgin fossil fuels to PW (Implementation steps 1 and 2) confers economic advantages. However, the subsequent transformation steps (Implementation steps 3 and 4) can only be justified if a value is assigned to the environmental benefits, e.g., CO2 savings, increased share of biogenic carbon in plastic products, increasing recycling quotas, and/or the potential of the process to compensate for the intermittency of renewable power. It is also discussed how utilisation of the diverse compositions of PW streams by additional processes can meet the other demands of a chemical cluster.

Fluidized Bed Conversion

Thermochemical recycling

circular economy

feedstock recycling

gasification

recycling

steam cracking

Plastic waste

biomass

Author

Henrik Thunman

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Teresa Berdugo Vilches

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Martin Seemann

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Sébastien Pissot

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Jelena Maric

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Isabel Cañete Vela

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Huong Nguyen

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Sustainable Materials and Technologies

2214-9937 (ISSN)

Vol. 22 December 2019 e00124

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Chemical Process Engineering

Polymer Technologies

Other Environmental Engineering

Bioenergy

Energy Systems

Infrastructure

Chalmers Power Central

DOI

10.1016/j.susmat.2019.e00124

More information

Latest update

9/28/2021