Dow and Shell have announced a joint development agreement to accelerate technology to electrify ethylene steam crackers.
Traditional steam crackers rely on fossil fuel combustion to heat their furnaces, making them CO2 intensive, the companies say. As the energy grid becomes increasingly renewables led, they add, using renewable electricity to heat steam cracker furnaces could become one of the routes to decarbonize the chemicals industry — the challenge is to develop a technologically and economically feasible solution.
The collaboration between the two companies is already underway with innovation project teams located in Amsterdam, Terneuzen, the Netherlands, and Texas, that are focused on designing and scaling ‘e-cracker’ technologies. They will work in the coming years to first prove out process technology innovations in laboratory and pilot operations and to then scale to commercial crackers.
“Continuously improving the sustainability of our operations is an inherent part of how we operate at Dow,” said Keith Cleason, vice president Dow Olefins, Aromatics and Alternatives business. “Significant technological breakthroughs are needed to reduce our industry’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, which will require companies to step out of their comfort zones and work together to achieve bold and ambitious new goals. Our partnership with Shell is an important step in making this vision a reality.”
Thomas Casparie, executive vice president of the Shell global chemicals business, said, “Steam cracking makes base chemicals, which are transformed into a range of finished products that help society live, work and respond to climate change. This new work with Dow has the potential to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions from the manufacture of chemicals and to Shell’s ambition of becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner.”