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Electricity-based plastics and their potential demand for electricity and carbon dioxide

Palm, Ellen LU ; Nilsson, Lars J LU and Åhman, Max LU (2016) In Journal of Cleaner Production 129. p.548-555
Abstract
In a future fossil-free circular economy, the petroleum-based plastics industry must be converted to non-fossil feedstock. A known alternative is bio-based plastics, but a relatively unexplored option is deriving the key plastic building blocks, hydrogen and carbon, from electricity through electrolytic processes combined with carbon capture and utilization technology. In this paper the future demand for electricity and carbon dioxide is calculated under the assumption that all plastic production is electricity-based in the EU by 2050. The two most important input chemicals are ethylene and propylene and the key finding of this paper is that the electricity demand to produce these are estimated to 20 MWh/ton ethylene and 38 MWh/ton... (More)
In a future fossil-free circular economy, the petroleum-based plastics industry must be converted to non-fossil feedstock. A known alternative is bio-based plastics, but a relatively unexplored option is deriving the key plastic building blocks, hydrogen and carbon, from electricity through electrolytic processes combined with carbon capture and utilization technology. In this paper the future demand for electricity and carbon dioxide is calculated under the assumption that all plastic production is electricity-based in the EU by 2050. The two most important input chemicals are ethylene and propylene and the key finding of this paper is that the electricity demand to produce these are estimated to 20 MWh/ton ethylene and 38 MWh/ton propylene, and that they both could require about 3 tons of carbon dioxide/ton product. With constant production levels, this implies an annual demand of about 800 TWh of electricity and 90 Mton of carbon dioxide by 2050 in the EU. If scaled to the total production of plastics, including all input hydrocarbons in the EU, the annual demand is estimated to 1600 TWh of electricity and 180 Mton of carbon dioxide. This suggests that a complete shift to electricity-based plastics is possible from a resource and technology point of view, but production costs may be 2 to 3 times higher than today. However, the long time frame of this paper creates uncertainties regarding the results and how technical, economic and social development may influence them. The conclusion of this paper is that electricity-based plastics, integrated with bio-based production, can be an important option in 2050 since biomass resources are scarce, but electricity from renewable sources is abundant. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
CCU, Electrification, Ethylene, Fossil-free plastics, Propylene
in
Journal of Cleaner Production
volume
129
pages
8 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84992298147
  • wos:000378183900051
ISSN
0959-6526
DOI
10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.158
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
39b26c8d-5a85-47c9-91c0-9e5782b85e0f
date added to LUP
2016-05-12 08:27:23
date last changed
2017-04-13 09:36:28
@article{39b26c8d-5a85-47c9-91c0-9e5782b85e0f,
  abstract     = {In a future fossil-free circular economy, the petroleum-based plastics industry must be converted to non-fossil feedstock. A known alternative is bio-based plastics, but a relatively unexplored option is deriving the key plastic building blocks, hydrogen and carbon, from electricity through electrolytic processes combined with carbon capture and utilization technology. In this paper the future demand for electricity and carbon dioxide is calculated under the assumption that all plastic production is electricity-based in the EU by 2050. The two most important input chemicals are ethylene and propylene and the key finding of this paper is that the electricity demand to produce these are estimated to 20 MWh/ton ethylene and 38 MWh/ton propylene, and that they both could require about 3 tons of carbon dioxide/ton product. With constant production levels, this implies an annual demand of about 800 TWh of electricity and 90 Mton of carbon dioxide by 2050 in the EU. If scaled to the total production of plastics, including all input hydrocarbons in the EU, the annual demand is estimated to 1600 TWh of electricity and 180 Mton of carbon dioxide. This suggests that a complete shift to electricity-based plastics is possible from a resource and technology point of view, but production costs may be 2 to 3 times higher than today. However, the long time frame of this paper creates uncertainties regarding the results and how technical, economic and social development may influence them. The conclusion of this paper is that electricity-based plastics, integrated with bio-based production, can be an important option in 2050 since biomass resources are scarce, but electricity from renewable sources is abundant.},
  author       = {Palm, Ellen and Nilsson, Lars J and Åhman, Max},
  issn         = {0959-6526},
  keyword      = {CCU,Electrification,Ethylene,Fossil-free plastics,Propylene},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  pages        = {548--555},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
  title        = {Electricity-based plastics and their potential demand for electricity and carbon dioxide},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.158},
  volume       = {129},
  year         = {2016},
}