On 1 September 2022, SABIC and its partners BASF and Linde began construction of what will be the world’s first demonstration plant for large-scale electrically heated steam cracker furnaces. The project is a major milestone in the chemical industry’s journey towards reducing their CO2 emissions by powering the production of olefins and aromatics from hydrocarbons with electricity. SABIC’s role in the project further underlines the region’s commitment towards sustainability and plans by the regional chemical industry’s giant to address global challenges through efficient carbon management.
Commenting on the milestone, Yousef Al-Benyan, Vice-Chairman and CEO of SABIC, and Chairman, GPCA, said: “This project holds huge potential for all of the petrochemical industry around the world in our drive for low carbon emitting processes. With the milestone we are jointly announcing today on the start of construction, we hope that our three-party collaboration can inspire many more collaborations that ultimately bring the world to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions through a circular carbon economy.”
By using electricity from renewable sources instead of natural gas, the new technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions of one of the most energy-intensive production processes in the chemical industry by 90% compared to technologies commonly used today, SABIC said in a statement on their website. The start-up of the demonstration plant is targeted for 2023. It will be fully integrated into one of the existing steam crackers at BASF’s Verbund site in Ludwigshafen, Germany. With the new technology BASF, SABIC and Linde, the engineering, procurement and construction partner for the project, aim to develop full-scale commercial production plants that can achieve significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, compared with today’s technology.
The project has attracted €14.8 million funding by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action under its “Decarbonization in Industry” program. The program is aimed at addressing challenges due to current framework conditions and energy costs in Europe. Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, said in a recent news release: “BASF has the entrepreneurial drive to achieve the energy transition, and electrification of the steam cracker is very significant for us. We are therefore pleased that BASF has been granted project funding (…) which shows us that our approach is also supported by policymakers.”
Both Mr. Al-Benyan and Dr. Brudermüller will speak at the upcoming Annual GPCA Forum scheduled to take place on 6-8 December 2022 at the Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.