Six petrochemical companies in Flanders, North Rhine-Westphalia and the Netherlands announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies have agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing.
Using electricity produced from renewable sources would significantly reduce cracker emissions. The key challenges in developing electricity-based cracker technology are ensuring that the chosen emissions reduction solution is technologically and economically feasible compared to the current process; that it fits into a future low-carbon value chain; and that it can be implemented in time to meet policy targets. Assuming these challenges are met, developing and implementing electricity-based cracker technology will help the sector maintain sustainable operations while reducing the carbon footprint of its products.
The collaboration is a direct result of the Trilateral Strategy for the Chemical Industry drawn up by the North Rhine-Westphalian, Flemish and Dutch ministries of economic affairs and the industry associations VCI (Germany), essenscia (Belgium) and VNCI (Netherlands) to boost the sustainability of the chemical sector. The trilateral region of the Netherlands, North Rhine-Westphalia and Flanders forms the largest chemical cluster in the world with an annual revenue of €180 billion and 350,000 jobs.