All the initiatives to reach a CO2-neutral production of plastics make us happy. Indeed it is time to make a radical switch and produce circular plastics to reduce plastic waste, reduce CO2-emissions and reduce the use oil and gas for the production of plastics. This transition is complex and challenging and as there is no silver bullet we should embrace all initiatives. Most initiatives are not ready yet for large scale commercial implementation and a need for new feedstock will remain. Therefore, we promote the use of bio-ethylene as the technology to do so is commercially proven and it is the fastest solution to lower the CO2-emissions substantially within this decade for virgin polymers production.
03-07-2023 - Syclus choses Axens to provide Atol® technology for Europe’s first
ethanol-based renewable ethylene production plant
Geleen and Rueil-Malmaison, 3 July 2023
Syclus intends to build and operate a plant for the production of renewable ethylene from sustainable ethanol in Chemelot Industrial Park, Geleen, The Netherlands. With an annual production capacity in the range of 100,000 tonnes, this renewable ethanol-to-ethylene production plant would be a first in Europe, paving the way for a more sustainable way of producing plastics.
The facility will rely on Atol® technology from French company Axens. Among many other benefits, Atol® features very high, cost-effective, ethylene yields thanks to a best-in-class catalyst, and allows for an optimized use of process energy, which minimizes emissions. The technology can produce ethylene widely regarded as having the highest quality on the market, fulfilling the specifications required by Chemelot and also by the ARG, the extensive ethylene pipeline network in Northwest Europe.
Basic engineering is scheduled to start in late 2023, and production in 2026. Ethanol will be regionally produced by CropEnergies, who operates a plant for the production of renewable ethanol nearby and who have acquired a major share in Syclus in 2022. The investment required is estimated to be more than EUR 130 million.
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07-09-2022 - CropEnergies acquires stake in Dutch biobased chemicals start-up Syclus
Mannheim, 7 September 2022 – CropEnergies AG, Mannheim, Germany, has acquired a stake in the Dutch start-up for biobased
chemicals Syclus BV, Maastricht. CropEnergies purchases 50 percent of the company's share capital. The investment volume amounts to EUR 1.8 million. The goal is to build an industrial scale plant for the production of renewable ethylene from renewable ethanol. Ethylene is a basic chemical usually made from fossil oil and gas and is widely used in the chemical industry in particular for plastics and polymers used in everyday products. Historically, European demand for ethylene was approximately 20 million tonnes per year.
Health, environment, public safety, living standards, hazards, poverty and the use of natural resources all have been greatly improved by the application of new materials in industrial products such as: water based paints, the world’s strongest fibers, lightweight products, safe and sterile packaging for medical applications, soles for running shoes, electronics, HDPE piping for potable water, insulating wire for electricity cables, lightweight and strong recyclable food grade packaging that has helped to reduce food wastage, batteries, household appliances, plastics used in cars, advanced materials used in planes, helicopters, satellites in space and many, many more. We take this all for granted, but our lives would be so much different without plastics. All these mentioned products are made from ethylene: the world's most produced chemical intermediate.
Ethylene is made from fossil resources produced by the oil and gas industry. The production of ethylene is one of the biggest sources of industrial Green House Gas-(GHG) emissions, and comes #4 after cement, steel and fertilizer. Despite this, the reality is that the impact of humanity on global warming would have been much worse without ethylene and the products derived from ethylene. This fact cannot be an excuse for not applying affordable and proven technical improvements that reduce ethylene associated GHG emissions and make substantial sustainability improvements in its production and life cycle.
To keep benefitting from the positive impact of ethylene derived products we need a major improvement in ethylene production and the feedstock. Bio-ethylene made from bio-ethanol is such a major improvement. The technology is already commercially available and applied in Asia and South America. Syclus is all about producing an affordable, carbon-negative footprint and improved ethylene production in Europe.
Syclus’ ambition is to become a leading producer for 100% biobased and fully circular raw materials, starting with bio-ethylene. These will be used for making plastics and offer society an alternative to oil based plastics and hard to recycle bio plastics. Plastics made from Syclus bio-ethylene have a low carbon footprint and can be recycled. Both mechanical and chemical.
Syclus plans a production facility for the production of 100 kilotonne per annum capacity. We want to realize this at the Chemelot site in The Netherlands: this site has the ambition to become the most competitive and sustainable materials and chemicals site in Western Europe . Our first production-plant could already use the CO2 captured by fast growing plants to save up to 270 kilotonne per annum of greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to the CO2-footprint of 30.000 average Dutch persons. Applying commercially available and proven technology allows Syclus to deliver in time and with a high level of certainty to all stakeholders.
The conservatively projected improvement of applying our product is estimated to result in a saving of 2,7 tCO2/t ethylene. This is a reduction in CO2-footprint of 135% compared to average European (fossil-based) ethylene. This means our product has a negative CO2-footprint at the factory gate: the sum of supply of raw materials to our projected plant, production, purchase and application of our product results in less CO2 in the atmosphere.
In The Netherlands 4.000 kilotonne per annum (kt/a) of ethylene is produced by Dow Chemical Benelux (Terneuzen), Shell Chemie (Moerdijk) and SABIC Europe (Geleen). Appling this technology for all ethylene produced in the Netherlands a GHG-reduction of 10,8 Mt/a (megatonne CO2 per annum) could be achieved. In the Dutch climate agreement there is an objective for the Dutch industry to reduce 19,4 Mt/a of GHG-emissions by 2030. This proven solution can realize half of the total target and is affordable, and does not depend on large infrastructure still to be developed.
Is bio-ethylene affordable?
On average the production costs for producing ethylene from bio-ethanol are the same as from naphtha (naphtha is a crude oil-fraction that is now the predominant source of ethylene in Europe). However: producing it on a smaller scale and keeping bio-ethylene separate from fossil ethylene add costs and practically all new ethylene production plants use raw materials from shale gas from fracking in the USA as this comes at a lower cost than crude oil.
Is there enough bio-ethanol available for ethylene production?
The bio-ethanol production in the world is about 100 megatonne per annum (Mt/a), this is sufficient for 60 Mta/a of ethylene production. The main use of this ethanol is blending in the motor gasoline, which use in Europe will rapidly decrease by electric cars, stricter fuel efficiency standards and eventually the phase out of the combustion enige in cars.
Are there negative effects on deforestation?
The crops from which ethanol is produced (sugar cane, corn, sugar beat, wheat) grow in milder climates where there are no tropical rain forests.
Will there be food shortages because of ethanol production on agricultural lands?
The world-wide bio-ethanol production is about 100 megatonne per annum (Mt/a), this does not cause food shortages. With EU legislation in place to increase the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles and the increased share of electric vehicles, this ethanol becomes available for use in the chemical industry without the requirement for more land.
Mining & Petroleum engineer with cement, chemicals and renewable energy background. Over 20 years of relevant climate change and carbon emissions reduction work experience, leading project development, also involved in selection and implementation of novel technologies.
All round international finance professional. Proven track record (DSM) to build, grow and manage global Finance teams. Over 30 years' experience in (high) growth business environment, restructuring and treasury as well as start-up new innovative businesses.
Chemical engineer with 15 years of experience in the chemical industry (particularly the olefins and ammonia value chains) with focus on chemical technology and sustainability improvement. (Co)inventor of 25 published patent applications.
Chemical engineer, highly experienced chemical industry executive with a wide range of experience in pharmaceuticals, base and fine chemicals. Over 30 years of track record in management, operations, R&D, emissions reduction, technology licensing, evaluation and selection
Civil engineer with over 30 year’s experience in the petrochemical business. Managed teams in Marketing & Sales, Supply Chain and Procurement having a natural affinity with sustainability topics. Track record in business improvement.
Syclus is expanding the Team and is hiring Chemical Engineers, please see the Dutch vacancy text below:
(Senior) Process Engineer
Voor de realisatie van onze ethanol dehydratie plant in Geleen zoeken wij een (Senior) Process Engineer. Het is de ambitie van Syclus om de eerste grootschalige polymer grade bio-etheen productie van Europa op de Chemelot site in Geleen te realiseren. Op dagelijkse basis werk je in een klein team met andere engineers, maar ook met marketing, sourcing, sales, finance, etc. Je voornaamste verantwoordelijkheid is het tot stand komen van de engineering scopes en afstemming met andere engineering disciplines, de interfaces met andere partijen en het toezien op engineering in de scope van de licentieverstrekker. Na de overdracht en het opstarten van de plant zullen de aard van de werkzaamheden veranderen naar het komen met ad-hoc oplossingen voor problemen in de plant, proces optimalisatie en proces veiligheidsstudies. Ook is doorgroei naar leidinggevende rollen in productie of technologie mogelijk.
De ideale kandidaat die wij zoeken beschikt over:
- Een Master of Bachelor graad in Chemical engineering
- Ervaring in de procesindustrie
- Is gedreven om een fabriek te bouwen die een belangrijke verduurzaming in de chemische industrie realiseert.
- Goede beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal, zowel in woord als geschrift
- Werkt gestructureerd en streeft naar compleetheid
Werken bij Syclus
Syclus biedt één van de weinige kansen om aan een écht duurzaam product uit de chemische industrie te werken. Van de bio-etheen van Syclus worden producten vervaardigd met een negatieve CO2-voetafdruk: het product dat de consument koopt heeft tot dan toe meer CO2 uit de atmosfeer opgenomen dan uitgestoten, dit is werkelijk uniek in de chemische industrie. Qua beloning komen wij met een aanbieding op maat, ook het verkrijgen van een aandeel in het bedrijf als onderdeel van de beloning behoort tot de mogelijkheden.
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