“The Terneuzen site has 4 million metric tons of emissions per year. Reducing this number is the most complex project ever implemented at the site,” he said. “These emissions are generated mainly by the three steam crackers at the site, and from our own power plant. The roadmap to CO2 neutrality is therefore structured into Generations 1, 2 and 3.”
According to the roadmap, the Terneuzen site will reduce some 1.4 million metric tons of carbon emissions in Generation 1—equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 300,000 cars. The key will be to use clean hydrogen to fire the crackers instead of gas. An ethylene cracker, said Diaz di Mendibil, is fed with naphtha, propane, butane or LPG, to produce ethylene, propylene, some benzene and some aromatics.
“But, in the cracking process, off-gas is generated as a byproduct. In the traditional design of a cracker, this off-gas has energy content; it is therefore recycled and is used in the furnaces and the boilers to create the steam needed for the cracking process. That process occurs at temperatures of 800-1,000°C and yields ethylene, propylene, benzene, butadiene and, again, off-gas—which, when you fire it, generates CO2.”
The idea is therefore to remove the CO2 from the off-gas, which leaves behind clean hydrogen that can be fired in the boilers and furnaces without generating CO2, the company said. This requires the development of technology and the modification of the furnaces and boilers.