Waste-to-Chemistry Project Financed in Rotterdam

Port of Rotterdam

By The Maritime Executive 02-22-2018 07:16:08

Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Enerkem and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have signed a development agreement for the initial investments in an advanced waste-to-chemistry plant in Rotterdam. This will be the first plant of this type in Europe to offer a sustainable alternative for waste incineration, by converting plastic and mixed waste into new raw materials for industry.

The investment – for detailed engineering, the establishment of a special joint-venture and the conclusion of the licensing procedure – amount to some €9 million ($11 million). The consortium is aiming for the project’s final investment decision, estimated at €200 million ($250 million), to be taken later this year and has appointed Rabobank as adviser for the financing process.

The plant will be able to process 360,000 tons of waste into 220,000 tons or 270 million liters of methanol. This is more than the total annual waste from 700,000 households and reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 300,000 tons.

The plant is planned for the Port of Rotterdam’s Botlek area, using exclusive technology from Canadian company Enerkem. Non-recyclable mixed waste, including plastic, will first be processed into synthetic gas and then into clean methanol for the chemical industry and the transport sector. Currently, methanol is usually produced from natural gas or coal. The plant will be equipped with two production lines. This is double the capacity of the large-scale Enerkem plant in Edmonton, Canada.
The Rotterdam plant will benefit from infrastructure at the Port of Rotterdam and from partnerships with Air Liquide and AkzoNobel for the supply of the required oxygen and hydrogen. AkzoNobel is also a consumer of the methanol.

This is a huge step on the road to a sustainable and circular chemical industry, said Marco Waas, Director of RD&I at AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, and Chairperson of the consortium. “This agreement comes at an extremely appropriate time considering the current challenges regarding recycling and plastics in Europe. We can process non-recyclable waste into methanol, an essential raw material for a large number of everyday products, such as sustainable fuel for transport. On the one hand, methanol can be used in existing supply chains as replacement for fossil fuels. On the other, it offers the advantage of there being no CO2 emissions during the incineration of waste.”

The project is being supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, which aims to promote the scale-up of new technologies and stimulate the transition to a low-carbon economy. There is also support from the Municipality of Rotterdam, the Province of South Holland and InnovationQuarter, the regional development agency.