CURRENT STATE AND DECARBONISATION OPTIONS FOR THE DUTCH POLYOLEFINS INDUSTRY
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This master thesis deals with the decarbonisation options for the Dutch polyolefins industry. The main products (LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, PP) are mostly used for packaging (60%), construction (10%), and automotive (7%). Three producers have been investigated: Dow (in Terneuzen, Zeeland), SABIC (in Geleen, Limburg), and Ducor (in Rozenburg, South-Holland). Their aggregate production of polyolefins is 2,570 kt/y, which is 2.5 times higher than the Dutch demand and equal to 8.5% of the total European production. The production sites consume 4,774 TJ/y of electricity and 644 TJ/y of heat in total, which are linked with the yearly emission of around 800 kt CO2-eq. The main polymerisation technologies are high-pressure, solution, slurry, and gas-phase, causing the emission of 0.20-0.32 kg CO2-eq/kg of product. As most of the GHGs are emitted upstream and downstream the polymerisation phase, this study focuses on the decarbonisation options associated to the production of feedstock and the end-of-life treatments. Olefin monomers can be produced from bio-ethanol, which is obtained from the fermentation of sugar-rich crops (e.g. sugar beets). The carbon emissions are greatly reduced, but land and water use have to be considered, and the cost of the product is 60% higher than when using fossil-based feedstock. Another possible route is the gasification of bio-waste (e.g. from agriculture, the paper industry and cooking oils) and plastic waste, although the process is technically complicated and not yet ready for large scale applications. Besides the already-adopted mechanical recycling, potential circular economy options are dissolution recycling and pyrolysis, a thermochemical process able to handle hard-to-recycle plastics and recover the olefin monomers. Both technologies are considered promising by the stakeholders, but they are still under development and is thus uncertain if they are the best choices to process the plastic waste. In conclusion, more economic incentives and more innovation are needed to successfully decarbonise the Dutch polyolefins industry.