Breaking fossil dependence with waste

Together with partners from other industries as well as academy, Perstorp is working on finding a way to utilize waste that today is hard to recycle in other ways than through incineration for energy recovery. Turning waste into pyrolysis oil and use it as raw material for chemical products is a possible pathway for improved recycling and circularity that can also help the chemical industry break their fossil dependence.

Perstorp has the long-term ambition to become Finite Material Neutral, which includes shifting from virgin fossil raw materials to renewable or recycled, and are constantly working on reducing its environmental footprint. With the help of pyrolysis and gasification technologies a large amount of the raw material needed can be replaced from conventional fossil-based sources to circular sources.  

“If successful, this means that we can use waste that is today burnt for energy and instead turning it into something with a long term value, thereby also binding the carbon in products with a long life span. It is too early to say how much fossil raw material could be replaced with the help of pyrolysis and gasification, but the potential is huge", says Simon Fröjd, Specialist in Process Simulation and Design.  

In this project, the pyrolysis oil would be gasified to synthesis gas. As the largest producer and user of synthesis gas in Sweden, Perstorp would build a new gasification unit to process the pyrolysis oil. The pyrolysis oil can then be turned into synthesis gas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide), which is used in the production of several Perstorp products, thereby replacing current fossil-based feedstock.  

“We are determined to drive the sustainable transformation of the chemical industry and move away from fossil dependence. Our industry is important for the transformation of society towards circularity by enabling reuse of waste streams that are difficult to recycle in other ways. This project has a very interesting potential of substituting for example natural gas as a raw material for products", says Anna Berggren, VP Sustainability at Perstorp.

An experimental study with funding from the Swedish Energy Agency is now being conducted by RISE to learn more about production of synthesis gas by gasification of pyrolysis oil. The results have so far been successful. One challenge that the project is facing, is that there is currently not a single source of waste for pyrolysis oil that would provide sufficient volumes for a large-scale gasification unit. Hence, several different pyrolysis oils are characterized and tested experimentally. Another challenge is to adjust regulations that support recycling of waste streams into new products and not steer waste towards combustion if recycling is possible. 

Anna Berggren

Vice President Sustainability

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