Dow and Shell Demonstrate Progress in Joint Technology Development of Low-CO2 Crackers – Chemical Engineering

By Gerald Ondrey |

Following the announcement of a joint development agreement in June 2020, Dow, Inc. (Midland, Michigan) and Shell Chemicals (London, UK) are now reporting progress on their electric furnace heating technology program. steam cracking. This new route has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from one of the central processes of the chemical industry.

The companies confirm that the joint program has received 3.5 million euros ($4.2 million) under the MOOI program (grant for mission-oriented research, development and innovation) by the government Dutch. They also announce their alliance with the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO; The Hague) and the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT; Amersfoort, Netherlands). This multi-company collaboration aims to accelerate key milestones for near-term progress and longer-term breakthroughs needed.

In the first year, the program advanced electrification solutions for today’s steam crackers while pursuing breakthrough technologies for new, longer-term electrified cracker designs. The twin-track approach aims to support the emissions reductions needed to meet companies’ 2030 CO targets2 ambitions and their goals to achieve net-zero companies by 2050 or earlier, in line with the Paris Agreement. Joint teams in the Netherlands and the United States deployed their expertise in electrical design, metallurgy, hydrocarbon technology and computational fluid dynamics to refine concepts, validate emissions benefits, advance patents, demonstrate the durability of electric heating elements and partner with equipment suppliers.

The companies are currently evaluating the construction of a multi-megawatt pilot plant, with potential start-up in 2025, subject to investment support.

The two new collaborators bring additional expertise and a shared commitment to a low-carbon future. TNO has in-depth knowledge of high temperature heat transfer applications and plays a leading role in identifying innovative electrical technologies that could be deployed in industry. It is a founding partner of the industrial electrification of the state-of-the-art field laboratory in Rotterdam. ISPT focuses on system integration of preferred concepts, linking the dynamics of disruptive technologies to those of chemical industry utilities and infrastructure through the energy transition.

Thomas Casparie, Executive Vice President of Shell’s Global Chemicals business, said: “Being selected for funding from the Dutch government is a vote of confidence in the initial progress of this joint electronics cracking program and in its potential to help to transform the chemical industry. This effort is an example of true business-to-business collaboration to accelerate decarbonization, and it’s great to have our two new partners on board.

“Our multidisciplinary team has forged a solid foundation and made significant progress in the first year of our multigenerational plan,” said Keith Cleason, Dow Olefins vice president, Aromatics and Alternatives business. “We are delighted to add ISPT and TNO to the joint program as they bring complementary expertise and share the same desire to bring viable low-carbon technologies online as soon as they are feasible.”