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Waste-to-chemistry in Port of Rotterdam

The facility plans to convert up to 360,000 tons of waste into 220,000 tons of green methanol

Port of Rotterdam project will support Dutch economy's transition to low carbon
Port of Rotterdam project will support Dutch economy's transition to low carbon

A waste-to-chemistry facility is to be built in Rotterdam following a project development agreement struck between the Port of Rotterdam and a consortium of companies comprising Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals and Enerkem.


The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe to provide a sustainable alternative solution for non-recyclable wastes, converting waste plastics and other mixed wastes into new raw materials, the consortium claims.


Initial investments, which cover detailed engineering, the setup up of a dedicated joint venture and completing the permitting process, will be worth €9m. The consortium aims to take the final investment decision (FID) for the estimated €200m project later in 2018 and has appointed Dutch Rabobank as the lead advisor for the financing process.


The new facility will reportedly convert up to 360,000 tons of waste into 220,000 tons (270 million litres) of ‘green’ methanol. As an equivalent, this represents the total annual waste of more than 700,000 households and represents a 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,” said 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.


According to Canadian company Enerkem, methanol is generally produced from natural gas or coal today. The plant will have two production lines, or twice the input capacity of its 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 and together with AkzoNobel, the raw material hydrogen. 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,” added Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer 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.”


Realisation of the project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate policy, which has agreed to develop mechanisms and regulation that will help bring this new technology to full scale to support the low-carbon transition of the Dutch economy.


The waste-to-chemistry project is also supported by the City of Rotterdam, the province of Zuid-Holland and InnovationQuarter, the regional development agency.


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