Plans have been revealed which will see Europe’s first waste to methanol plant opened in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Enerkem and the Port of Rotterdam signed a project development agreement last month with an initial investment of €9m ($11m). The final investment decision, worth €200m ($246m), will be made later this year.
The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe to provide a sustainable alternative solution for non-recyclables wastes, converting waste plastics and other mixed wastes into new raw materials.
It will convert up to 360,000 tonnes of waste into 220,000 tonnes (270 million litres) of ‘green’ methanol. As an equivalent, this represents the total annual waste of more than 700,000 households and represents a carbon dioxide (CO2) emission savings of about 300,000 tonnes.
“This is an important milestone for the project and a significant step toward implementing a sustainable and circular chemical industry,” says Marco Waas, Director RD&I at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, who leads the consortium’s Steering Committee. “The agreement comes at a very appropriate time given the current challenges in plastics recycling in Europe. We can convert non-recyclable waste, into methanol, an essential raw material for many everyday products, including low carbon transportation fuel. Not only can this be used in the existing supply chains and replace fossil sources, but it also avoids CO2 emissions otherwise produced by burning waste.”
The facility will be built within the Botlek area of the Port of Rotterdam using Enerkem’s proprietary technology, and will convert non-recyclable mixed waste, including plastics, into syngas and then into clean methanol for use in the chemical industry and for the transportation sector. Today, methanol is generally produced from natural gas or coal. The plant will have two production lines, or twice the input capacity of Enerkem’s commercial-scale plant in Edmonton, Canada. It will benefit from the state-of-the-art infrastructure available within the Port of Rotterdam, as well as synergies with Air Liquide (large industries) for supplying the required oxygen (O2) and together with AkzoNobel, the raw material hydrogen (H2). AkzoNobel also acts as a customer for the methanol.
“This is another exciting and important step getting us closer to launching the construction of our very first advanced biorefinery facility in Europe in 2018,” said Vincent Chornet, President and CEO of Enerkem. “As part of this innovative consortium, Enerkem will be the technology provider, lead contractor as well as an equity partner in the project.”