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Major petrochemical companies form 'Cracker of the Future' consortium



Six major petrochemical companies have this week formed a ‘Cracker of the Future’ consortium and signed a collective R&D agreement as they seek to explore electrical cracking to potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Major petrochemical companies form 'Cracker of the Future' consortium
The Cracker of the Future consortium includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, and has as it’s main aim the objective of investigating how naptha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The consortium will place a strong emphasise upon R&D efforts and knowledge sharing as the companies assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

Base chemicals, which include ethylene, propylene, butadiene and BTX, are produced in steam crackers and mainly transformed into plastics. These are used for lightweight components in vehicles, improving passenger safety and comfort and reducing fuel and emissions. Plastic packaging saves and preserves food from field to table. Overall, polymers make a major contribution to resource and energy efficiency and positively impact society.

With demand for petrochemical products continuing to rise, especially amongst the emerging economies of Asia, steam crackers represent the principal opportunity for the Petrochemical industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. One option currently under consideration is to electrically heat the cracking furnaces, rather than rely on fossil fuels.
The companies involved in the Cracker of the Future consortium
(The companies involved in the Cracker of the Future consortium).

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.

Following the signature of the agreement, the members of the consortium have begun exploring and screening technical options. If a potential technical solution is identified, the parties will determine whether to pursue joint development project(s), including R&D activities that could include a demonstrator for proof of concept in the case of base chemicals.

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