SCIweek📰 From energy transition to new production capacity and Horizon Europe

12 December 2022 | Muriel Cozier

Brazil-based Braskem has joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative (MITEI), with a focus on supporting and funding research to advance the energy transition. During 2021 MITEI launched the Future Energy System Centre, a research consortium bringing together experts and industry leaders to develop and implement technology needed to bring about decarbonisation.

Braskem has said that it will commit to MITEI for the next three years and will provide guidelines, along with partner organisations, to help direct research projects that are aligned with its long term sustainability commitments. In addition to promoting the circularity of plastic, Braskem said that it is looking to reduce dependence on non-renewable feedstocks and reduce carbon emissions.

Production of polypropylene (PP) has started at ExxonMobil’s new polyolefins plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US. With an output of 450,000 tonne/year the facility, which required a capital investment of $500 million, will double output at the site, and help the company meet growing demand for high-performance, lightweight and durable plastics, particularly for automotive parts which can help improve fuel efficiency.

ExxonMobile corporate plan

In the meantime, the company has set out its corporate plan for the next five years, which ExxonMobil says includes a ‘sizeable increase in investments aimed at emissions reduction and a gradual growth of lower-emissions initiatives.’ The corporate plan, through to 2027, maintains annual capital expenditures at $20-25 billion, and lower-emissions investments will grow to some $17 billion. The company said: ‘This disciplined approach prioritises high-return, low-cost-of-supply assets in the Upstream and Product Solutions businesses and supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity from operated assets, as well as those emitted from other companies.’

Also bringing on new production capacity, Johnson Matthey is to expand the output of formaldehyde at its facility in Perstorp, Sweden. The increase of around 50% will allow the company to meet rising demand from the chemicals market in China, where new rules have been introduced to phase out the use of single-use plastics by 2025. The new capacity will be operational by the end of March 2024. Alberto Giovanzana, Managing Director for Catalyst Technologies at Johnson Matthey said: ‘By expanding our Perstorp site, we will be best placed to meet the global demand for this versatile chemical.’

In the area of sustainable fuels, TotalEnergies is to deliver more than 800,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to Air France-KLM. A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the partners will see deliveries start during 2023 and run for a period of 10 years. The SAF will be produced by TotalEnergies at its biorefineries and will be mainly used for Air France-KLM flights departing from France and the Netherlands. TotalEnergies has said that its SAF reduces carbon dioxide emissions by at least 80% on average over the entire lifecycle, compared with their fossil fuel equivalent. The partners have been collaborating on SAF for almost a decade.

BP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Egypt 

Meanwhile, BP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Egypt by which it will explore the potential for establishing a new green hydrogen production facility in the country. BP will conduct a number of studies to evaluate the technical and commercial feasibility of developing a multi-phase, large-scale, green hydrogen export hub in the country. The MoU was signed by BP, Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt for Investment and Development (TSFE).

TSFE’s Chief Executive Officer, Ayman Soliman, said: ‘We are proud of this MoU with BP, demonstrating our role as a catalyst for [the low carbon transition] providing investors with a wealth of renewable energy sources, an optimal location for exporting, and an investor friendly ecosystem.’

The European Commission has adopted the main Horizon Europe work programme 2023-24, with €13.5 billion to support researchers and innovators in Europe. The Commission said that the funding would contribute to the European Union’s goals on climate change, increasing energy resilience and developing digital technologies. The first calls for proposals opened on 7 December. Horizon Europe Information Days, targeting potential applicants, are taking place between 6 December 2022 and 16 February 2023.

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