Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN 10-03-2023
Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
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-Sulzer technology at heart of Indaver’s Plastics2Chemicals plant recycling 30’000 tonnes of plastic waste each year
Sulzer advanced separation technology will enable end-of-life plastics recycling at Indaver’s first plastic depolymerization plant currently under construction in Antwerp, Belgium.
The new Plastics2Chemicals (P2C) plant will drive polymer circularity by using Sulzer separation technology to reclaim and purify 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year. The resulting pure chemical feedstock can then be reused in manufacturing.
As a leading European sustainable waste management company based in Belgium, Indaver is leveraging Sulzer’s advanced separation technology to develop safe recycling methods for typically non-recyclable post-consumer plastic.
This demo-plant is the first of a number of sustainable P2C facilities that Indaver plans to build in strategic locations across Europe, together which will upcycle one million tonnes of used plastic. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Plastic waste becomes chocolate foils and yoghurt pots
After breaking long plastic macromolecules (polymers) down to simple monomers through depolymerization, the new P2C facility will use Sulzer Chemtech equipment to recover and purify the monomers to be used in the production of packaging materials, such as butter dishes, chocolate foils, cups and yoghurt pots amongst others.
Indaver elected to partner with Sulzer in this project due to its extensive research and pilot testing at Sulzer Chemtech’s in-house pilot plant in Allschwil, Switzerland. Sulzer is delivering four units that will run proprietary processes to enhance the quality of the recovered styrene or oil fractions. The Sulzer Chemtech equipment is critical to purification of chemical feedstock, enabling the polymer circularity. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
-Automotive Trends: Electric Vehicles Drive Greater Use of Plastics
On average, plastics make up less than 10% of a vehicle’s weight yet account for approximately 50% of its volume, according to a new ACC report.
Around 2003, the average automobile weight in North America exceeded that of the previous peak in 1976. Since then, albeit with some volatility, vehicle weight has trended upward, reaching around 4,300 lb. (1,950 kg) in 2021, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data. This mass increase is despite the growing use of lightweighting plastics in vehicles and can be attributed to two trends: Passenger cars and light trucks are getting larger, and they are being crammed with more and more features. Light-duty trucks accounted for 55% of vehicle sales in the United States in 2021, up from 36% in 2012. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Further, today’s vehicles are being outfitted with all manner of sensors and infotainment systems, meaning even smaller vehicles are tending to bulk up.
The latest report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), “Chemistry and Automobiles,” details some interesting factoids and trends that highlight the role of plastics in automobiles. The report found that from 2012 to 2021 the average mass plastics in an automobile sold in the United States increased by 16%, to 411 lb. (186 kg). Calculations show those 411 pounds make up less than 10% of an average vehicle’s weight yet account for approximately 50% of its volume, greatly improving fuel efficiency and, in turn, reducing costs for drivers and carbon emissions from transportation.
Plastics a solid substitute for steel
The report also concludes that as electric vehicles (EVs) become more popular, plastics are more important than ever to the auto industry, not just in the vehicles themselves but also in charging infrastructure. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
EV batteries are significantly heavier than internal combustion engines, driving automakers to incorporate more plastic into more components of vehicles, like the chassis and battery casings, to offset that additional battery weight. Furthermore, certain high-performance plastics can absorb four times the crush energy of steel, greatly improving safety for passengers in collisions.
-Environmental impact of PET bottles lower than glass bottles and aluminum cans, study says
The life cycle assessment issued by NAPCOR claims PET plastic bottles produce less greenhouse gas emissions and are better for the planet.
The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has released a life cycle assessment (LCA) comparing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, glass and aluminum carbonated soft drink (CSD) and still water beverage container systems, and says the assessment found PET bottles, when compared with aluminum cans and glass bottles, are significantly better for the environment.
The assessment, an update on a similar 2009 study, was completed by Franklin Associates, an Overland Park, Kansas-based LCA consulting firm, and went through an extensive peer review and verification process. NAPCOR claims the findings unequivocally show that when it comes to the best beverage packaging for the environment, the answer is PET. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Per the study, plastic packaging made from PET is used in over 70 percent of beverage containers because it is lightweight, clear and 100-percent-recyclable, and compared with glass and aluminum beverage containers creates less solid waste, uses less water during production and generates fewer emissions that contribute to acid rain and smog.
In addition, the study shows that if U.S. consumers selected PET bottles instead of glass bottles for their soda beverages over the course of one year, it would be the same as:
-17% growth in EU plastic recycling capacity
Installed plastic recycling capacity has grown by 17% in 2021 in EU27+3, boosted by an estimated €1.75 billion investment. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Despite the recent challenges that the industry has faced, the commitment of recyclers to drive the transition toward a circular plastic future remains strong.
“In recent years, European plastics recyclers have experienced many challenges. However, with the increased advancements in legislation, stemming from the implementation of the Plastics Strategy and the Single-Use Plastics Directive, the recycling industry has weathered the crisis showing its resiliency to external factors”, says Ton Emans, PRE President. “The positive growth we can observe today will shape and further strengthen the market for recycled plastics towards meeting the EU targets”, he adds.
With more than 730 recycling sites, the total capacity in EU27+3 now stands at 11.3 million tonnes. This proves that the plastic recycling sector is an important employment generator with more than 30,000 persons across Europe, and with €8.7 billion in turnover it contributes substantially to the socio-economic welfare in the region.
In terms of the polymers split, more than 3/4 of the total share is covered by flexible PE & PP, PET and rigid PE & PP. These streams showed the highest increase, compared to 2020. When it comes to rigid polyolefins, nearly half of the recycling capacity is dedicated to the household stream. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
For flexible PE & PP, half of the capacity is for commercial waste.
-Recon Technology to expand into chemical recycling
‘Now is a strategic time’
China-based oil and gas field service company Recon Technology, has announced plans to move into the plastics chemical recycling business. According to the company, relevant data has shown that the market space for chemical recycling of waste plastics is huge, with an annual new market potential estimated at tens of billions of dollars and a market potential of hundreds of billion dollars. The industry is expected to become a new growth area. It has already attracted the attention and participation of many consumer industry giants, who view the technology as a way to meet their commitments on increasing the use of recycled plastics., as well as investments, planned expansions and real-world product launches. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Against the backdrop of rising petroleum prices, increasing difficulties in exploration and the fast-expanding problem of plastic pollution, Recon has decided to enter the field to catch up with the opportunities it presents. The company attended China Plastics Recycling Conference and Exhibition held on 28 February to explore the various technologies currently available. Achieving stable production at low cost is a goal the global chemical industry continues to pursue. In that context, the chemical recycling business is one where Recon Technology can put its industry and technical know-how and advantages to good use, by making full use of its skillset to contribute to the creation of a greener and circular economy.
Shenping Yin, founder and CEO of Recon called the new business initiative a ‘natural extension of our existing business lines in the field of chemical recycling’ as well as a way to ‘enhance our corporate value’, as demand for recycled polymers – fueled by brands and consumers – continues to soar across many markets. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
-Teijin impacted by fire at Dutch aramid fibres plant
Japanese group expects incident to take a toll on sales volumes and capacity utilisation this year
Arnhem, The Netherlands – Synthetic fibre manufacturer Teijin Aramid expects lower sales volumes in the coming months due to a fire at its production facility in Delfzijl, The Netherlands.
In a financial statement for 2022, Teijin said the fire occurred at a raw materials plant of Teijin Aramid BV on 3 Dec, but did not provide further details.
As a result of the fire, Teijin expects lower sales volumes and capacity utilisation to decline, affecting the performance of the group’s material business for the current fiscal year. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
The fire resulted in an extraordinary loss of Yen195 million (€1.3 million) though insurance coverage is expected to cover the damages, added the 8 Feb statement.
An investigation into the impact of the incident is still in progress, Teijin adding that neither the amount of insurance pay-out nor the timing of payment have been determined yet.
-Bio-based acrylonitrile for carbon fiber manufacture
The quest for a sustainable source of acrylonitrile for carbon fiber manufacture has made the leap from the lab to the market. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Carbon fiber composite materials, for all of their virtues — light weight, high strength, durability — have a couple of significant downsides that do not play well in a world that is pivoting quickly to emphasize CO2 footprint, sustainability and decarbonization. One downside is the great deal of energy required which, depending on its source, can produce up to 30 tons of CO2 per ton of carbon fiber manufactured. The second is acrylonitrile, the primary feedstock used to produce the carbon fiber precursor polyacrylonitrile (PAN), which has been traditionally sourced from petroleum-based chemistries.
A vast majority of the energy used in carbon fiber manufacturing is consumed by a series of furnaces and ovens through which the PAN fibers pass as they are oxidized and carbonized to become carbon fibers. (Click here for more on how carbon fiber is made.)
Reducing energy consumption, audited by Bureau Veritas (BV, Paris, France) in 2019, revolves around sourcing energy from renewable resources, including hydro, solar and wind. This is the relatively low-hanging fruit of carbon fiber decarbonization. There are also technologies aimed at reducing the process time, such as rapid oxidation developed by Deakin University (Geelong, Australia), licensed by LeMond Carbon (Knoxville, Tenn., U.S.) and audited by Bureau Veritas (BV, Paris, France) in 2019, that have demonstrated a 70% reduction in energy required per kilogram of output fiber. However, such technologies have yet to be commercialized. Automotive Trends – Bio-based ACN
Reducing the carbon footprint of the precursor is much more challenging and generally follows one of two paths. The first path is to develop a new class of precursor from a non-PAN, bio-based source. Lignin, a cellulose byproduct of papermaking, has been the primary focus of this effort, but to date has not been able to produce carbon fibers with mechanical properties on par with those derived from PAN.