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Dow to Deploy Plastics-to-Oil Process

 

 

Bloomberg) -- Dow Inc. is partnering with the Dutch developer of a method for turning plastic trash back into oil as the global chemical powerhouse seeks to expand recycling amid rising alarm over pollution.

Fuenix Ecogy Group has created a method for breaking down plastic into a form that can be used in a fresh round of manufacturing. Dow plans to implement the process at its plant in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, and make it a recycling mainstay, the companies said Thursday.

Chemical companies are under pressure to address plastic waste that clogs oceans, damaging wildlife and ecosystems around the world. Manufacturers and consumer brands are trying to head off a backlash that’s already eroding demand.

Retail and consumer giants including Unilever NV and Walmart Inc. have committed to increase use of recycled plastics, creating an estimated $120 billion market in Canada and the U.S. alone. A lack of cost-effective technology has been one of the biggest obstacles.

Transformational Technologies

At least 60 companies are working on solutions and need investment to scale up more quickly, according to a report by Closed Loop Partners, an investment firm focused on cutting waste in the economy. The vast majority of the plastic sent out into the world is never recovered, and nearly 90% of such waste ends up in landfills, incinerators, rivers and oceans. Only about 6% of plastics used in the U.S. and Canada are available for recycling, according to the report.

Fuenix’s technology is a more flexible solution than traditional mechanical recycling, which reuses plastic for a limited range of applications, according to Dow, one of the worlds’ biggest manufacturers. The product of the process, called pyrolysis oil, is appropriate for making food packaging and medical products that normally require freshly mined hydrocarbons such as crude oil.

“You can’t see the difference,” said Carsten Larsen, Dow’s director of recycling in Asia and Europe, in an interview. “The plastics that we make from the pyrolysis oil and the crude oil are the same.”

Fuenix, which developed the technology over the past seven years, is focusing on recovering plastics that can’t otherwise be reused or recycled. Most companies with similar processes convert plastic waste into fuel, Chief Executive Officer Sirt Mellema said in an interview.

The partnership will help Dow use at least 100,000 tons of recycled plastic to make products sold in the European Union by 2025, the company said in a release. The EU is moving to ban single-use plastics, such as plates, cutlery and straws as early as 2021 in a bid to reduce ocean waste.

The technology offers a 65% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with methods such as incinerating waste with energy recovery, Fuenix said, and it’s seeking additional partnerships to expand.

The approach has the potential to address a broad market and compete with petroleum products, “something that the vast majority of mechanically recycled plastics cannot do,” said Maarten Bakker, a professor of resources and recycling at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

“It’s a promising technology for certain waste streams that cannot now be processed mechanically,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Proper in Amsterdam at eproper@bloomberg.net

 

 

Edited by Tom Kirkman
Fixed typo in thread title

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These reprocessing facilities tend to be large, and need  large volumes of raw-material inputs to keep running.  Thus for smaller cities you will find that there is not enough scrap plastic to fully charge the converter machinery.  That then implies trucking in large amounts of plastic scrap from yet other cities, which implies all these trucks on the highways and city streets moving that bulk material around. The one under construction in Indiana looks like it will need to obtain scrap from Chicago to keep running fully. That is a lot of trucks.

It strikes me that the optimum solution is a much smaller scale of plant, sized to handle the load from just that smaller city.  Then only city "recycling"-sized trucks run to the plant to offload, and you don't have these semi-trailers loaded up with large bundles of scrap coming in from other cities.  A modular converter plant would be a big hit, and lots could be built to distribute to smaller cities around the country, and exported.  That would be a nice business venture! 

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21 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

These reprocessing facilities tend to be large, and need  large volumes of raw-material inputs to keep running.  Thus for smaller cities you will find that there is not enough scrap plastic to fully charge the converter machinery.  That then implies trucking in large amounts of plastic scrap from yet other cities, which implies all these trucks on the highways and city streets moving that bulk material around. The one under construction in Indiana looks like it will need to obtain scrap from Chicago to keep running fully. That is a lot of trucks.

It strikes me that the optimum solution is a much smaller scale of plant, sized to handle the load from just that smaller city.  Then only city "recycling"-sized trucks run to the plant to offload, and you don't have these semi-trailers loaded up with large bundles of scrap coming in from other cities.  A modular converter plant would be a big hit, and lots could be built to distribute to smaller cities around the country, and exported.  That would be a nice business venture! 

Maybe - but then you need to move the oil from all these small cities to a central processing location.  I suppose if a plastic scrap truck cubes out long before it weighs out, then transporting oil instead of scrap would reduce the number of trucks on the road, but that doesn't imply lower overall cost.  I doubt tanker trucks are as cheap to built & operate as bulk haulers. 

Then there are economies of scale.  Much of the appeal of a large plant is that it reduces overhead: a similarly sized staff can just as easily run a large plant as it can a small plant.  Fewer, larger components means less maintenance.  Etc. 

Then there are staffing issues.  Where are we going to get the extra staff for all these tiny plants?  Do the necessary experienced professionals want to live in remote locations, or would it be easier to co-locate them within driving distance of a decent suburb? 

Then there's economic stability.  What do you do with a small plant when a particular town suffers economic decline?  What do you do when a community experiences rapid growth, outstripping its plant's capacity?  Do we really want to tie a specific capital investment to a single, small community?  How much value is there in mitigating risk with a central facility that can draw from many communities?

What are your thoughts? 

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10 minutes ago, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

What are your thoughts? 

The technical process converts scrap plastic directly into gasoline.  Presumably that can be sold and used right there, no trucking needed!

As for the rest (size and staffing, etc)  hey all of life is imperfect and is a set of compromises. Who cares if a larger size plant can do more with less?  Remember that the plant is getting its input feedstock, the scrap, for free, or is being paid to take it.  Then the plant gets paid for the output gasoline.  Hard to see how that deal goes wrong.  OK, so maybe you can "make even more money" if the plant is larger.  You could also "make more money" by clear-cutting a forest, although it is likely not the best idea.  

Also, if the plant is truly modular, its components will sit on sub-section frames, which can be jacked up and slid onto flatbed trucks and removed with minimal fuss.  Sounds about right to me! I think you build a plant to fit the circumstances, and if you need more capacity, well then just add another plant.  The over-arching value is in getting rid of all that heavy truck traffic, the noise, pollution, and risk to children that heavy trucks inherently bring.  Cheers.

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(edited)

3 minutes ago, Douglas Buckland said:

Jobs in the small town/small plant?

Depends on what you mean by "small town."  My guess is that a facility like this would be hard pressed to be built for a volume smaller than what you would get from a municipality of 100,000.  It might require a larger population base. Either way, finding operating personnel in the context of that size town should be easy enough to do.  Cheers.

Edited by Jan van Eck
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On 8/31/2019 at 2:12 PM, ceo_energemsier said:

The EU is moving to ban single-use plastics, such as plates, cutlery and straws as early as 2021 in a bid to reduce ocean waste.

I'm starting to think all these low-carbon efforts have nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with reducing dependence on unreliable producers of oil. 

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6 hours ago, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

I'm starting to think all these low-carbon efforts have nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with reducing dependence on unreliable producers of oil. 

The ban or no ban on single use plastics may or may not be effective to control all the plastic pollution but it is a move in the right direction.

Instead of bans, the gov should provide tax incentives for companies to do R&D and develop new techs to reuse as much of the plastics possible. I think personally from a resource and business point of view, single use plastics are a waste of a very good resource, waste of an entire production system , and waste of $$$ throughout the entire cycle from raw material to end plastic product not including the wide spread pollution.

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3 minutes ago, ceo_energemsier said:

The ban or no ban on single use plastics may or may not be effective to control all the plastic pollution but it is a move in the right direction.

Instead of bans, the gov should provide tax incentives for companies to do R&D and develop new techs to reuse as much of the plastics possible. I think personally from a resource and business point of view, single use plastics are a waste of a very good resource, waste of an entire production system , and waste of $$$ throughout the entire cycle from raw material to end plastic product not including the wide spread pollution.

I'd agree that blanket bans of products aren't the best idea.  There's always a niche use case for a product that makes perfect sense; the problem is the mass use of wasteful products. 

Instead of incentivizing research - which comes with a pile of corruption and incompetence - I'd argue countries need to tie the cost of national defense to the cost of the imports.  If the US needs to spend $100bn/year policing the middle east, then Middle Eastern oil imports need to generate $100bn/year in tax revenues.  They won't, of course.  The end result will be a high cost of importing and subsequent domestic production. 

But what if you live in a country with no domestic production?  Your industry will either source oil from reliable nations, as defined by said nations defense community, or they will find alternative products.  Frivolous products like plastic cutlery and Styrofoam cups would disappear. 

Account for all the costs, and let markets work out the details.

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1 minute ago, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

I'd agree that blanket bans of products aren't the best idea.  There's always a niche use case for a product that makes perfect sense; the problem is the mass use of wasteful products. 

Instead of incentivizing research - which comes with a pile of corruption and incompetence - I'd argue countries need to tie the cost of national defense to the cost of the imports.  If the US needs to spend $100bn/year policing the middle east, then Middle Eastern oil imports need to generate $100bn/year in tax revenues.  They won't, of course.  The end result will be a high cost of importing and subsequent domestic production. 

But what if you live in a country with no domestic production?  Your industry will either source oil from reliable nations, as defined by said nations defense community, or they will find alternative products.  Frivolous products like plastic cutlery and Styrofoam cups would disappear. 

Account for all the costs, and let markets work out the details.

The tax incentives, should be very critically evaluated and given , not just handed to every TD&H company and fly by the night operations that pop up to cash in on the "green and clean" scam sham . The companies that actually end up proving something and is is applied in real life on a commercial scale.

Countries that have no energy resource production of their own (any meaningful production that they can have to supply atleast a good chunk of their domestic needs) , based on their economy and population are screwed. If they have industries and a large population to feed and provide energy to, will be struggling with energy and food bills.

These frivolous plastic products were luxury for ease and convenience at one time in the Western world and have since become an "entitlement", use and throw, fast food helped the growth in use of these.

Maybe the Mid East Oil producing nations-OPEC and consumers of their oil should form a pact that the producers pay a certain amount and the consuming countries pay a certain amount to "police" the sea ways and maintain atleast some safety and stability but politics and jockeying for power gets in the way.

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16 minutes ago, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

I'd agree that blanket bans of products aren't the best idea.  There's always a niche use case for a product that makes perfect sense; the problem is the mass use of wasteful products. 

Instead of incentivizing research - which comes with a pile of corruption and incompetence - I'd argue countries need to tie the cost of national defense to the cost of the imports.  If the US needs to spend $100bn/year policing the middle east, then Middle Eastern oil imports need to generate $100bn/year in tax revenues.  They won't, of course.  The end result will be a high cost of importing and subsequent domestic production. 

But what if you live in a country with no domestic production?  Your industry will either source oil from reliable nations, as defined by said nations defense community, or they will find alternative products.  Frivolous products like plastic cutlery and Styrofoam cups would disappear. 

Account for all the costs, and let markets work out the details.

 

 

OPEC’s research shows that oil and gas, and this industry as a whole, is here to stay.

That’s what OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo revealed in a speech at the 12th Kazenergy Eurasian Forum on September 26.

“The fact is, all forms of energy will be required to meet future demand,” Barkindo said in the speech.

“It is not about choosing one form of energy over another. Oil and gas are expected to remain the fuels with the largest share in the energy mix throughout the forecast period to 2040,” he added.

Barkindo went on to say that OPEC expects to see “robust growth” in long-term global oil demand, “which is expected to rise to almost 112 million barrels per day by 2040”. 

“Most of this will come from developing countries with high population growth rates, expanding middle classes and strong economic growth,” Barkindo stated.

In the speech, Barkindo also highlighted the “vital role” of technological innovation, energy and fuel efficiency enhancements and carbon capture, utilization and storage, which he said will provide “a balanced and effective approach to meeting the world’s energy needs in an environmentally friendly way”.

 

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16 hours ago, ceo_energemsier said:

 

 

OPEC’s research shows that oil and gas, and this industry as a whole, is here to stay.

That’s what OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo revealed in a speech at the 12th Kazenergy Eurasian Forum on September 26.

“The fact is, all forms of energy will be required to meet future demand,” Barkindo said in the speech.

“It is not about choosing one form of energy over another. Oil and gas are expected to remain the fuels with the largest share in the energy mix throughout the forecast period to 2040,” he added.

Barkindo went on to say that OPEC expects to see “robust growth” in long-term global oil demand, “which is expected to rise to almost 112 million barrels per day by 2040”. 

“Most of this will come from developing countries with high population growth rates, expanding middle classes and strong economic growth,” Barkindo stated.

In the speech, Barkindo also highlighted the “vital role” of technological innovation, energy and fuel efficiency enhancements and carbon capture, utilization and storage, which he said will provide “a balanced and effective approach to meeting the world’s energy needs in an environmentally friendly way”.

Personally, I think General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo is either corrupt, lying, or an idiot - which is what I expect from OPEC leaders. 

My opinion: 
1)  Nations that haven't yet lifted themselves out of poverty will not do so.  In particular, sub-Saharan Africa definitely will not lift itself out of poverty.  At no point in history has it demonstrated the ability to maintain a civilization.  Meanwhile, Central and South America are too corrupt and incompetent to survive without natural resource revenues.  That leaves SE Asia.  While SE Asia's wealth is rapidly growing, it's also rapidly adopting advanced technology and transitioning to a circular economy.  It's demand won't last long.  Meanwhile, the developed world's population is declining even as it adopts circular economy principles.  That leaves little room for O&G demand growth and a lot of room for decline. 
2)  Even now, the EIA is revising oil demand growth downward.  IIRC, they've had to adjust downward twice this year already - and that under near perfect conditions: the EV revolution and plastic-to-oil plants are both in their infancy, the next recession hasn't occurred, a disruptive war hasn't spiked oil prices, international trade hasn't ground to a halt due to US disinterest in policing the sea lanes, the next generation of efficient vehicles aren't yet on the road, etc.  There's a lot of demand destruction coming down the pipe. 
3)  The world is tired of OPEC's dickery.  As oil demand wanes, it would make sense for the US and Russia - both O&G exporters - to orchestrate the slow demise of these nations and their production.  The rest of the world, most of which relies on imported oil, will welcome the stability this brings to O&G markets.  OPEC has no friends and no cards left to play. 

In the best market scenario, liquid petroleum demand will peak no later than the next decade because technology will replace it.  From there, its use will decline as rapidly as it rose.  The more likely scenarios are peak oil accelerated by recession, war, or both.  What do oil markets look like when demand declines 1MMbpd/year or faster?  Lower prices.  I would guess that OPEC's welfare states go the way of Venezuela: bankruptcy leads to inflation, chaos ensues, and their oil production disappears.  If that happened to, say, Saudi Arabia, it would affect enough production to cause market volatility.  Fortunately for oil consumers, the US is actively destroying these petro states one-by-one (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, and soon Saudi Arabia).  By the time oil demand peaks, OPEC will have no bite. 

Natural gas demand will continue to grow until something cheaper comes along, and it's hard to say what, exactly, would be cheaper than the rock-bottom NG prices we're seeing.  Unfortunately for OPEC, the same rock-bottom prices that cause NG demand growth also make it less lucrative.  It's hard to buy loyalty - much less sustain a welfare state - when you're in a competitive commodity market.  OPEC will also have to contend with the US and Russia, both of whom would gladly destroy these nations to steal their market share.  I don't see NG saving OPEC. 

So sure, some O&G will be around for a long time - but it won't be OPEC's O&G.  OPEC is a dead man walking.  Meanwhile, the rest of us will finally be free of oil's geopolitical nightmare. 

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On 9/28/2019 at 1:46 PM, ceo_energemsier said:

The ban or no ban on single use plastics may or may not be effective to control all the plastic pollution but it is a move in the right direction.

Instead of bans, the gov should provide tax incentives for companies to do R&D and develop new techs to reuse as much of the plastics possible. I think personally from a resource and business point of view, single use plastics are a waste of a very good resource, waste of an entire production system , and waste of $$$ throughout the entire cycle from raw material to end plastic product not including the wide spread pollution.

When you have 1/2 of political power in the US celebrating waste and pollution under the guise of freedom and constitutional rights how can the effects of do anything but pile and spread. Many huge engines in cars and trucks power only egos with little practical use but by god “I have the right to kill clean air”. Good luck with single use plastic but captain obvious would point out individual freedom Trumps any actual common sense.

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