Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol 15-12-2022

Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

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-New market study explores advances in chemical recycling technology

Is implementation at scale imminent or is the technology not yet ready?

In its latest report entitled Chemical Recycling and Dissolution of Plastics 2023-2033, independent market research firm IDTechEx Chemical has examined the early-stage technologies for chemical recycling and assessed the players and likely commercial impact.

The report includes independent market forecasts, industry analysis and critical technical assessment on pyrolysis, depolymerisation, gasification, and dissolution processes; both those in use today and being proposed for the near future.

In chemical recycling, end-of-life plastic is converted back to either its monomeric feedstock or further upstream to raw materials.

These then re-enter the value chain at virgin-grade quality, a process that, in theory, can be repeated an infinite number of times.

It is a promising approach but one that has caused considerable controversy. The environmental credentials and economic viability of the different chemical recycling processes have come under frequent and heavy criticism from opponents, while advocates of the technology tend to present it in an all-too-positive light. The reality is that the merits of these technologies are still emerging; their benefits and limitations are still being evaluated. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

So what are these technologies? IDTechEx Chemical has compiled an overview of the most common ones in use.

Depolymerisation

Depolymerisation is one of the most exciting areas of chemical recycling; it involves breaking down polymer chains into their monomers. This is not appropriate for all polymers, but it can be highly effective for some. The monomer will also hold more value than a raw material, but there are challenges, including the process conditions and the requirements of a more homogeneous waste feedstock, to give two examples.

Currently, the two main materials focused on in this space are PET, which can be depolymerised via methanolysis, hydrolysis, or glycolysis; and the thermal depolymerisation of PS. PET depolymerisation is a key focus area that is being explored by both young companies, like Loop Industries, and major industry players, including Eastman. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

According to IDTechEx Chemical, there are two processes close to larger-scale deployments that warrant a further look. The first is enzymatic depolymerisation and the main player in this space in France-based Carbios, who announced in 2022 that they would build their first plant in partnership with Indorama Ventures. They have a JDA with Novozymes to produce the proprietary recycling enzyme and end-user partnerships, including Pepsi, L’Oréal, On, Patagonia, Salomon, PUMA, Nestle Waters, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe. Carbios are not alone, as many others enter this field. Another emerging company is Samsara Eco in Australia.

Microwave-assisted depolymerisation is the second depolymerisation technology of interest. In thermal depolymerisation, achieving efficient heat transfer is essential; this is where microwaves could play a role. As with enzymatic processes, academic interest has been very considerable, but the commercial success stories are increasing. One of the key players in the field is Pyrowave. Pyrowave have been operating a reactor for PS for many years and have reported that their recycled product has already gone into many finished goods. Michelin is a key investor and is in the process of installing their first multi-reactor project with the product utilised for their styrene-butadiene rubber. There are others exploring microwaves, including Microwave Chemical in Japan, who work with Mitsubishi Chemical on PMMA and other engagements, and Gr3n, who received 2021 funding from Chevron Technology Ventures and Standex International, looking at PET.

Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis is a familiar technology backed up by decades of research and commercial exploration. Currently, major commitments made by major petrochemical players such as BASF, Sabic, and ExxonMobil are driving the market. In 2022 alone, Encina announced a US$1.1 billion investment in a new plant; Plastic Energy progressed in their commercialization with announcements surrounding TotalEnergies, INEOS, LyondellBasell, and Qenos; and Honeywell announced a strategic agreement with TotalEnergies and a JV with Avangard. However, the technology is highly controversial: in 2022 lawmakers and environmental groups submitted over 100 letters to the Environmental Protection Agency on the regulation of this technology. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

The uproar has led to setbacks, as well:  Brightmark Energy, for example, scrapped plans for a US$680m plant in the state of Georgia.

One of the more notable technology developments in a related field is hydrothermal liquefaction. Here, supercritical water and a catalyst are used to break mixed polymers into long chain hydrocarbons. One of the reported advantages is the ability to tolerate lower-quality mixed material feedstocks, specifically those with a higher proportion of PVC, which is a key problem in pyrolysis. As with pyrolysis, this is not new, but newer companies such as Mura Technology, for example, are currently gaining significant momentum, progressing to strategic partnerships and planned projects with the likes of Dow, Mitsubishi Chemical, and LG Chem.

Similarly, gasification is also not a new process and has been extensively deployed to remove municipal solid waste (MSW), particularly in Japan. What is changing is the idea that syngas generated need not be used for on-site energy, but rather it can be purified and converted into longer chain hydrocarbons, methanol, or ethanol. With the ability to use MSW, gasification acts as the final option for any circularity before incineration. Players are exploring this. Enerkem is one of the more notable players, and their first commercial plant opened in 2014. As of late 2022, Enerkem has a further plant under construction for 2023, and two more are being planned. It should be noted that, as with pyrolysis, although the product can re-enter the supply chain, it often does not and is instead used as a fuel. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

Various other processes, ranging from developing polymers with dynamic bonds to facilitate the circular economy, to secondary recycling processes for the dissolution or purification of plastics, are also in various stages of development. Secondary recycling processes are strictly speaking not chemical recycling, but they also offer a promising route to achieving higher-grade materials than other mechanical routes without having to go so far back up the value chain. Players in this field are Trinseo, Purecycle Technologies, APK, Polystyvert, and Worn Again; as with the other processes, many of the younger technology providers have entered into partnerships with major companies across the plastic value chain. An emerging space is ‘physical recycling’: selectively dissolving the polymer and subsequently precipitating this to produce the pure polymer. Ideally, it is a low energy process, and the recycled polymer retains properties closer to that of the virgin material.

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Chemical-recycling - Bioethanol

-Korean GE Technology opts for Honeywell’s chemical recycling technology

Korean waste management company GE Technology is licensing Honeywell’s UpCycle Process Technology for use in the new chemical recycling plant it plans to build in South Korea. This first commercialised waste plastics recycling facility to use Honeywell’s UpCycle Process Technology in Korea will annually process 30,000 metric tons of mixed waste plastics into what Honeywell calls Recycled Polymer Feedstock (RPF), starting in 2025.

“Honeywell’s UpCycle Process Technology not only allows us to reduce waste by expanding the types of plastics that can be recycled, but also displaces the need for fossil fuels in the creation of virgin plastics,” said Woo-Hyun Shim, vice president of GE Technology.

The process is a proven one that utilises molecular conversion, pyrolysis, and contaminants management technology to convert waste plastic to into a high-quality feedstock that, depending on the cracker, requires no further processing before use.

It is suitable for a wide number of plastics, including coloured, flexible, multilayered packaging, and polystyrene, that in many cases would otherwise go to landfill or be incinerated. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

“Honeywell’s technology can play a key role in driving a circular plastics economy to tackle the global challenge of plastic waste,” emphasised Barry Glickman, vice president and general manager, of Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions.

The announcement expands the UpCycle Process Technology footprint, building on Honeywell’s recent announcements in the U.S., Spain, Turkey, China, and Egypt.

Honeywell’s UpCycle Process Technology was created within Honeywell’s Sustainable Technology Solutions (STS) business, which is part of Honeywell UOP.

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Chemical-recycling - Bioethanol

-Bioplastics have a role in the circular economy

But reduce, reuse, and recycling are the first priorities

At the 17th EUBP conference held last week as a hybrid event in Berlin, a running theme was the proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste published just days before. Combined with the newly presented EU policy framework on bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics, it is evident that the bio-based plastics industry will be looking at a number of changes in the near future.

Of the three speakers representing the European Commission at the conference, it was Silvia Forni of the Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) who, in her keynote, gave a run-through of the policy framework.

Noting that bio-based plastics offer both opportunities and challenges, she emphasised that conditions must be met by these materials to deliver overall positive environmental outcomes. She also clarified that reduce, reuse and recycle are the ‘first principle – no single models’ are envisaged and no generic claims of ‘bio-based’ or ‘biodegradable’ are permitted to be made. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

Conditions to be met relate, for example, to the type of biomass content: the framework specifies the use of secondary feedstock versus primary, and the use of long-lived versus short-lived products. Biodegradation is a system property, she explained, hence the requirement that the time frame and specific environment for biodegradation be specified. No claims of biodegradation may be made in respect of litter-prone products and in general, biodegradable plastics should be used for products intended to remain in the environment, such as mulch film. Regarding compostability, she said the framework specified 4 products that must be compostable: tea and coffee bags, tea and coffee single-serve systems, very light carrier bags, and adhesive stickers used on vegetables and fruit. Otherwise, packaging should preferably be recyclable rather than compostable. In addition, only industrially compostable plastics are to receive the label ‘compostable’, with the disposal route via biowaste clearly marked.

While the Commission will continue to fund research into bio-based plastics and their role in the circular economy, the focus will be on the difference in greenhouse gas emissions between fossil-based and bio-based plastics  – and how big the reduction achieved by using bio-based plastics is, – the potential applications of biodegradable plastics, and additional aspects, such as the time frame for home composting.

The conference, which featured over 40 speakers and moderators, was hailed as a success. It was attended by close to 360 people, over 300 of whom participated in person in Berlin. The 2-day programme was a full one, with presentations on topics ranging from best practices in food waste collection, standardisation and certification to end-of-life options and new applications. The annual presentation of key industry data showed that continued, robust growth is expected in the industry. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

Industry and policymakers agreed on the necessity to work closely together to establish an adequate environment for bioplastics. EUBP Conference bioplastics industry set to engage with political stakeholders on upcoming legislation. As Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of EUBP noted in his presentation on the most recent data, misinformation about bioplastics continues to be a problem. Better communication will be key if bioplastics is to be regarded as a sustainable solution at scale. The Commission is currently acting on a number of misconceptions about these materials, in terms of their potential to become litter, contaminate recycling streams, compete with the food supply or even the use of arable land. Already, he said, production is migrating – inevitably to be followed by the knowledge, expertise, and accumulated experience if we continue down this path.

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Bioplastics have a role in the circular economy

-Why Oil Traders Are Wary Of Buying Crude

China relaxing its covid-19 measures, the G7 oil price cap and OPEC+ undershooting its production targets is bullish for crude.

Institutional buyers were still dumping crude futures at the beginning of December.

Several investment banks believe that a more dovish Fed could send crude prices to $100 again.

The past couple of weeks have seen some good news for oil prices: China is relaxing its zero-Covid rules, the G7 and the European Union launched their price cap and embargo against Russia, and OPEC+ once again undershot its production target by a hefty 2 million bpd. Yet none of this has been enough to stimulate institutional traders to start buying oil. On the contrary, large traders continue to be net sellers, according to Reuters’ John Kemp who follows trading balances in the six most traded crude and fuel contracts on a weekly basis. They just seem to be too afraid of a looming recession to turn into buyers.

A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group found that the overwhelming majority of bankers, like institutional traders, expect a recession next year in the United States and Canada. Not only will there be a recession, but it will also be a prolonged one, according to the survey cited by American Banker.

On the silver linings side, however, expectations are for a mild recession, the survey also found. Yet mild or severe, a recession invariably means negative things for oil demand, which could provide one explanation for traders’ attitudes and the resulting price moves. Among these things are lower purchasing power, resulting in lower spending and, therefore, lower demand for oil.

Yet China is reopening and this is a strong bullish factor for that demand, with or without a recession in most of North America. In fact, according to Bank of America, if China reopens its economy as it hints it would, oil prices could increase considerably. If the Chinese reopening is coupled with a change of tack by the Fed in its struggle to contain inflation, the price rise would be higher. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

BoFA analysts said in a note Monday that Brent crude could gain 23 percent if China continues returning to normal but “With the interest rate curve now fully inverted, Brent may need a Fed pivot to turn the corner.”

The U.S. central bank has been aggressive in its handling of runaway inflation, which the Fed initially dismissed as transitory, only to admit later it higher prices were here to stay unless the Fed itself did something about it. So the Fed began raising interest rates, which immediately sparked concerns about a slowdown and even stagflation.

Indeed, the Fed has raised interest rates six times so far this year, and not by a little: 0.75 basis points has been its go-to hike pace but, according to the FT, the last rate hike for the year, to be announced this week, would likely be lower, signaling a certain degree of relaxation although not an end to the fight with inflation.

By the way, the FT also did a survey about recession expectations among economists, and a whopping 85 percent said they did indeed expect an economic slowdown next year in more evidence that most market watchers and participants are not exactly optimistic about the immediate future.

Yet as the recession unfolds, oil’s fundamentals remain rather bullish, as JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon noted in a recent interview with CBS. He pointed to chronic underinvestment in new oil production, which “will hurt you two or three years out. It’s quite predictable, but it’s not today.” Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

In the current economic environment, then, caution is certainly warranted. The BofA forecast for oil prices is based on two big “ifs” and while the signs coming from China are encouraging, the signs coming from the Fed—more rate hikes—serve to moderate any oil price optimism over the near term.

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Chemical-recycling - Bioethanol

-Chevron Phillips and KazMunayGas to build polyethylene plant in Atyrau

KazMunayGas (KMG) and Chevron Philips Chemical representatives signed a license and engineering agreement for the second phase of the construction of an integrated gas and chemical complex in the Atyrau region, QazMonitor reports.

A meeting between Magzum Myrzagaliyev, Board Chair of KMG, and Venki Chandrashekar, Vice President for Research and Technology of Chevron Phillips Chemical, was held on December 11. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

The contract outlines the development of a polyethylene plant to produce polyethylene using MarTECH® ADL technology, and a license to produce 625,000 tons of polyethylene a year.

The technology of the petrochemical company will make it possible to produce a wide range of products at the future Kazakh plant, including premium high-density polyethylene for which stable long-term demand growth is expected all over the world in the future.

The negotiations on the second polymerization unit with an annual capacity of 625 thousand tons of polyethylene are being finalized with another licensor and the signing of the agreement is expected by mid-December of the current year.

The two units are going to be united into one complex with a total capacity of 1,250,000 tons. The choice of the two leading licensors will ensure the production of a wide range of base and premium grades.

We remind, Chevron Corporation, through its subsidiary Chevron Munaigas Inc. (Chevron), and JSC NC KazMunayGas (KMG) have announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore potential lower carbon business opportunities in Kazakhstan. Chevron and KMG plan to evaluate the potential for lower carbon projects in areas such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS); hydrogen; energy efficiency and methane management; and carbon financial disclosure methodology.

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Chevron Phillips and KazMunayGas to build polyethylene plant in Atyrau

-Switzerland’s Clariant books Swfr225m impairment charge for Romanian bioethanol plant

Clariant has booked a Swiss francs (Swfr) 225m ($241m) impairment charge for its bioethanol plant in Podari, Romania, because it has “not yet achieved the targeted yields,” the Swiss chemicals producer said on Monday.

Shares in the company were down almost 2.5% on the Swiss Exchange in European morning trading. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

Chemical analysts said the plant’s delayed ramp up was a “negative surprise” but would not affect Clariant’s profitability in the medium term.

STRAW TO ETHANOL

Clariant wanted to establish the Podari plant, which will produce ethanol from straw, as the flagship facility for its Sunliquid technology.

It was expected to convert 250,000 tonnes/year of straw into 50,000 tonnes/year of cellulosic ethanol or bioethanol.

“While we are disappointed by this impairment, we are however pleased with our strong group financial performance in the first three quarters of 2022,” said Clariant’s CEO, Conrad Keijzer.

“The industrialisation of our new technology remains challenging, and therefore impacts underlying financial assumptions, giving rise to the impairment announced today [Monday]. Nonetheless, we will continue our efforts to achieve commercial viability of the technology.”

The plant was completed in 2021 and started operations in Q2 2022.

In June, energy and petrochemicals major Shell signed an agreement with Clariant to purchase the entire bioethanol off-take from the plant which it intended to use in fuel blending, bio-based chemicals and other applications such sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

A spokesperson for Clariant told ICIS on Monday that despite the setback in yields, it would fulfil its agreement with Shell.

“We have already begun producing yields at Podari and are delivering all ethanol that meet the agreed specifications to Shell. Though we cannot comment on how much that is at the moment precisely, we are currently operating Podari at yields that are below our initial performance target,” the spokesperson. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

“It is common practice to adjust and optimise certain processes and settings based on findings made during the ramp up process of an industrial plant,” it added.

TECHNOLOGY INCOME

On Monday, analysts at German investment bank Baader said the impairment charge could slow the licensing of Clariant’s Sunliquid technology.

It was expecting to cash in around $100m in direct sales from the plant as well as license income in the mid-term, they added.

“The value of the plant which is still in Clariant’s balance sheet is now in the low double digit Swiss francs million… Clariant aims to address the operational challenges by continuously adjusting production processes with the target of achieving commercial viability of the new technology,” the analysts pointed out.

“According to Clariant, no additional capex [capital expenditure] will be needed. However, further ramp up costs in 2023 will weigh on Clariant’s financial performance, in our view. This impairment has no impact on cash, will be booked in December 2022 and will, therefore, be reflected in the full year 2022 results.”

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Switzerland’s Clariant books Swfr225m impairment charge for Romanian bioethanol plant

-CJ Biomaterials Has Big Plans for Tunable PHA Biopolymers

Applications for its first product, amorphous polyhydroxyalkanoate (aPHA), a softer, more rubber-like version of PHA, include rigid and flexible packaging.

CJ Bio, now known as CJ Biomaterials, acquired polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) pioneer Metabolix in 2016. Earlier this year, the company’s amorphous PHA (aPHA), went into production with the startup of a new production facility in Indonesia.

Designated as PHACT A100P, aPHA is the bioplastic supplier’s initial launch from a technology platform for  “tunable” designer biopolymers that can also enhance other bioplastics. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

Why aPHA? According to CJ Biomaterials, it is a softer, more rubber-like version of PHA that offers fundamentally different performance characteristics than crystalline or semi-crystalline forms of PHA.

Made from plant sugars like sugarcane, tapioca, corn, and cellulosic biomass, aPHA is certified biodegradable under industrial compost, soil (ambient), and marine environments.

aPHA is also considered home compostable — it does not require specialized equipment or elevated temperatures to be fully biodegradable.

Max Senechal, the company’s chief commercial officer, references data published by organizations such as EUPB that forecast rapid growth in the market, in this instance expanding from about 2 million tons in 2020 to more than 7 million tons by 2026.

A report released this month by Prophesy Market Insights agrees, forecasting a CAGR of 22.4% for biopolymers. The report expects the market to increase in value fom $10.7 billion in 2022 to $86.7 billion by 2032.

That aggressively optimistic projection is seen in brand owner traction.

“We see a very strong push from brand owners moving from [biopolymer] interest to adoption as evidenced by organizations such as PepsiCo’s Off the Eaten Paths snacks, to Bacardi and more recently, upstart companies such as Cove with a biodegradable water bottle,” Senechal tells us. “Once thought of as aspirational, PHA is now seen as responding to the consumer voice in many cases.

“Additionally, transformative regulatory projects such as [California’s] SB 54 will pave the way for comprehensive circular solutions where biopolymers play a big role.”

There is growing activity on the new business front as well. CJ Biomaterials has announced arrangements with Accor hotels, Yuhan-Kimberly, and NatureWorks to develop products using aPHA. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

CJ Biomaterials has also partnered with South Korea Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the Korea Innovation Foundation (INNOPOLIS) to actively promote eco-friendly materials, including PHA.

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CJ Biomaterials Has Big Plans for Tunable PHA Biopolymers

-OCC, PET show minor price movements this month

Compared with recent months, December has brought stable prices across the range of curbside recyclables, with OCC down a little bit and PET up slightly.

First, the bad news for MRFs and other material sellers: The national average price for corrugated containers (PS 11) dropped another $3 per ton, from an average $30 per ton last month to a current average $27 per ton. This compares with $141 per ton this time last year. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

Then, some good news for MRFs: PET and HDPE container prices are up a bit. The national average price of post-consumer PET beverage bottles and jars is now averaging 10.75 cents per pound. That’s compared to 10.13 cents per pound this time last month. Some regions are still trading as high as 13.00 cents per pound, with most offering as low as 9.00 cents. PET was trading at 18.28 cents one year ago.

And natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from curbside collection programs is up marginally, now at an average 60.06 cents per pound. This compares to 59.03 cents last month and 56.44 cents this time last year.

For the most part, everything else has remained stable since November.

Mixed paper (PS 54) remains in minus territory, at negative $1 per ton.

Sorted residential papers (PS 56) is level, around $22 per ton. This compares with $94 per ton one year ago and $76 per ton this time last year.

Sorted office papers (PS 37) dropped by $22 per ton month over month, from $239 to $217 per ton. That compares with an average of $165 one year ago.

In metals, prices have been flat month to month. The national average price for aluminum cans is unchanged, at 65.00 cents per pound. This material was trading at an average 76.06 cents per pound this time last year.

Sorted, baled steel cans are unchanged from November, at an average $155 per ton. The price was $270 per ton one year ago.

The story is the same for other grades of plastic.

The national average for color HDPE is still at 9.00 cents per pound, unchanged from November. This grade averaged 26.63 cents one year ago.

Polypropylene (PP) is also unchanged from November, trading at 5.38 cents per pound. PP was 18.94 cents one year ago. Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

The national average price of Grade A film is down marginally, at 17.25 cents per pound, compared to 17.81 last month and 20.50 cents one year ago.

Grade B film is still 6.94 cents.

Grade C film remains at a low 0.50 cents per pound.

These prices are as reported on the Secondary Materials Pricing (SMP) Index. This pricing represents what is being paid for post-consumer recyclable materials in a sorted, baled format, picked up at most major recycling centers.

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OCC, PET show minor price movements this month

Chemical-recycling – Bioethanol

PEF-industrial-fibres – Film – PE – PP 14-12-2022