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Power-to-Olefins: Electrified steam cracking and plasma booster

Power-to-Olefins: Electrified steam cracking and plasma booster
The P2O project seeks to significantly reduce CO2 emissions associated with the production of olefins by introducing two new reactor concepts. These two reactors will make traditional steam cracking processes more sustainable.

Steam cracking
Olefins, including ethylene, are a group of vital building blocks in the chemical industry. Today, they are mainly produced through steam cracking of hydrocarbons. This process results in significant CO2 emissions.

A mature process
Steam cracking is performed almost exclusively in tube-shaped reactors that are heated up in open flame furnaces. By intensifying the heat transfer to the process vapor stream, residence times can be reduced, and ethylene yields can be increased. Yet, as the industry matured, such yield gains have become increasingly difficult to achieve due to engineering restrictions.

A radically new reactor
To overcome these restrictions, P2O aims to develop a radically new reactor concept that can drastically intensify the heat transfer using renewable electricity: an electrified rotor stator reactor (e-RSR).

Another issue with steam cracking concerns methane, which is produced during the cracking process and often combusted after separation from the product stream, resulting in CO2 emissions. In principle, setting aside current engineering challenges, this can be avoided by converting the methane into ethylene or aromatics through methane coupling, or oligomerisation.

Therefore, P2O seeks to develop yet another new reactor concept: a non-thermal plasma catalytic reactor. This reactor can convert methane from the product stream of the naphtha or ethane cracking process, enabling higher ethylene yields at a lower CO2 footprint.

By combining two new reactor concepts and pursuing innovations in the traditional steam cracking process, P2O will allow Flemish industries to significantly reduce their CO2 emissions while increasing their ethylene yields.

Project Details

Project type: cSBO in MOT3 Electrification & Radical Process Transformation
Approved on: 18/11/2020
Start date: 01/03/2021 (expected duration of 48 months)
Budget: €2.928.939