12/06/2021 | Process Innovation
Two key collaborations have further established Sulzer Chemtech’s eco credentials in terms of sustainability and progress towards it’s international carbon zero objectives. The first is one which sees the company, a leader within separation and mixing technology, enabling the further development and it’s optimisation of Blue Planet’s carbon mineralisation process for carbon capture, utilisation and storage solutions. The second involves an exclusive license agreement which will commercialise Switzerland’s AVA Biochem’s technology to produce commodity chemicals from biomass.
In the case of the US-based Blue Planet, the ground-breaking process will leverage Sulzer’s carbon reduction technologies to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial activities, for example by supporting the cement industry to produce carbon-neutral or carbon-negative concrete. Blue Planet is developing a profitable and sustainable CCUS system that captures CO2 from a variety of emission sources. These include power, steel, cement, refining and direct air capture. The system mineralises the CO2 to form sustainable synthetic limestone aggregates by permanently sequestering the CO2 in a solid form.
Aggregate is the mail component of concrete and the most used building material worldwide. Aggregates in concrete are bound by cement, a significant contributor to global CO2 emissions (7% as per the International Energy Agency). With this process, the CO2 footprint of the cement is more that off-set.
Sulzer Chemtech is developing an efficient and effective carbon capture unit that will be a key enabler in Blue Planet’s process. This will be installed in a pilot plant, which is being constructed in Pittsburg, California, and will capture emissions from an adjacent natural gas-fired power plant. The facility will leverage Sulzer Chemtech’s technologies providing an incredibly high CO2 absorption performance while maintaining low energy consumption.
Blue Planet CEO Brent R. Constantz said: “Sulzer Chemtech is an ideal partner to help us meet our goal of delivering cost and energy efficient plants to permanently store CO2 in concrete by producing sustainable cement and concrete using Blure Planet’s technology. Together, we will be able to offer market-leading solutions to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.”
Torsten Wintergerste, the Division President Chemtech, added: “We are delighted to contribute our expertise of circular applications to such a cutting-edge project. It will help reduce carbon emissions from industrial applications and the cement sector – a main concern of our customers.”
The AVA Biochem initiative is important because these are renewable and non-toxic alternatives to fossil-based materials and serve to produce chemicals used in a broad range of applications, for example laminates for flooring.
Sulzer’s Chemtech division will now commercialise the licensed technology along with its proprietary key separation equipment for bio-based products to offer a one-stop solution.
AVA Biochem AG is a pioneer in enabling the decarbonisation of traditional chemical and adjacent B2B industries, and it is known for its proprietary COBRISTM process (Conversion of Biomass to Renewable Industrial Substances). The process turns sugar-rich biomass into a renewable and non-toxic compound (the platform chemical 5-HMF) used to produce a broad range of widely used products such as adhesive, food additives, textile fibres, as well as alternatives to formaldehyde used in chipboards.
Sulzer Chemtech will commercialise the licensed technology along with its proprietary key equipment for the purification of 5-HMF. Chemtech’s separation equipment is already being used in the unique demonstration plant in Muttenz, Switzerland, where 5-HMF is produced in different forms for a total capacity of six metric tons per year. Torsten Wintergerste said the partnership supports the large-scale production of bio-based materials, enhancing the sustainability of both the manufacturing and processing sectors.
“We are proud to expand our portfolio of technologies for the production of renewable, bio-based and recyclable materials with AVA Biochem’s technology”, he said. “This new solution, which includes our advanced separators, is an excellent fit with Sulzer Chemtech’s offering.”
AVA Biochem CEO Dr. Christoph Kolano, said the company strives “to create a circular economy that will contribute to a positive environmental future”. He added: “We are at the right time and place, with a suitable commercial and industrial technology at the ready.
“Key topics like CO2 footprint, conversion of biomass according to Green Chemistry principles are more prominent than ever. Mindful consumers are increasingly aware of biodegradability, the impact of plastics and alternatives to fossil resources. They care about reducing waste, recycling or upcycling.”
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