Evonik cooperates with REMONDIS on sustainable polyurethane recycling

Evonik cooperates with REMONDIS on sustainable polyurethane recycling

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik is one step closer to its goal of closing the material cycle in the polyurethane industry: The company has joined forces with the REMONDIS Group, one of the world's leading recycling companies to secure the supply of end-of-life mattress foams, said the company.

The cooperation will support Evonik as it develops its chemical recycling process to the next level. Evonik’s innovative hydrolysis process makes it possible to recover the main components of polyurethane foam and reuse them as high-quality building blocks in the production of new mattresses. This process is currently being tested in a pilot plant in Hanau, and in a next step, the recycling process will be tested in a larger demonstration plant.

According to estimations, more than 250 kilotons of PU foam from old mattresses are incinerated or landfilled in Europe every year. Evonik and REMONDIS want to help reduce this with the goal of ensuring fewer fossil raw materials are used in the PU value chain by returning valuable materials to the raw material cycle. "Circularity in the field of flexible polyurethane foams is very important both for the environment, and for the future viability of our business. It gives us the opportunity to act in the interests of the environment, the industry, and consumers," said Thomas Wessel, the member of Evonik's Executive Board responsible for sustainability.

The REMONDIS Group contributes its expertise in sorting PU flexible foams from waste and feeding them into the cycle in constant quality so that they can be converted into chemical recyclates using Evonik's hydrolysis process. "By working together with REMONDIS, we can evolve from the current linear value chains to functioning circular loops. True circularity only works in networks, that’s why we are actively expanding our collaborations," said Dr. Patrick Glockner, Head of Evonik's Global Circular Economy Program.

The cooperation with the flexible foam producer The Vita Group, started in 2021, has already successfully demonstrated that Evonik's hydrolysis process recovers raw materials of significantly higher quality, and thus improved usability compared with previous recycling technologies. Increased use of recycled materials lowers the dependence on fossil raw materials and reduces the ecological footprint of the PU industry. According to findings so far, Evonik's process significantly reduces the CO2 footprint compared with mattress production using fossil raw materials. The demonstration plant intends to prove that this also applies on a larger scale.

"For us, closing material life cycles is not only a business objective but also an expression of our responsibility towards society as a whole. Conserving raw materials around the world and processing them again and again is a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable environmental and climate protection," said Jurgen Ephan, Managing Director of REMONDIS Recycling GmbH & Co. KG. "REMONDIS reintegrates enormous quantities of materials back into the production cycle. Every year, we collect more than 30 million tons of recyclable materials, process them and make them available to the industry as raw materials, with the numbers continuing to increase. What drives us is the constant development of new processes to close or optimize material cycles. Therefore, we are very pleased to be working with Evonik to tackle the challenge of finding an efficient solution for the raw material recovery of foam mattresses."

The initial focus of the project is on the region of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. However, the goal is to develop a scalable technology and a business model that can be expanded internationally.

We remind, vonik Industries has completed the relocation and expansion of its precious metal powder catalyst plant in Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park (SCIP). Production is scheduled to commence in Q4, 2023. Precious metal powder catalysts are widely used in industrial chemicals, life sciences and fine chemicals and are sold under Evonik’s Noblyst P brand name.


UBQ raises USD70 mln to develop advanced materials from waste

UBQ raises USD70 mln to develop advanced materials from waste

MOSCOW (MRC) -- UBQ Materials, which develops advanced materials made from waste, announced that it has closed USD70 million in funding, led by Eden Global Partners, said the company.

Additional participants in the financing were return investors in the company, including TPG Rise Climate, TPG’s Rise Fund, Battery Ventures, and M&G’s Catalyst strategy.

UBQ, which employs over 100 people in 25 different countries, including 50 in Israel, took its total funding over the past two years to USD240 million

Every manufacturer is currently seeking an alternative, especially considering its impact on the environment and carbon emissions,” Jack (Tato) Bigio, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of UBQ Materials, told Calcalist. “The only viable option in the realm of plastics is recycling, but the available quantity is limited, and the quality is not high. Our material is competitively priced while offering all the sustainability benefits that factories are currently seeking. Our material is classified as recycled content."

The investment will support the company’s commercial, sales, and marketing scale up, as UBQ Materials continues its global expansion. This will include additional facilities in Europe and North America, alongside the impending opening of UBQ’s industrial-scale facility in Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands. The new facility will have an annual production capacity of 80,000 tons of UBQ, converting 104,600 metric tons of waste annually into a new raw material.

We remind, Air Products has been chosen by the city of Montreal to supply oxygen equipment to support an ozone generation site that will remove impurities from wastewater at the Jean-R-Marcotte Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in North America.


Global diesel shortage boosts prices

Global diesel shortage boosts prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global distillate fuel oil inventories remain much lower than normal for the time of year which is putting strong upward pressure on fuel prices, said Reuters.

Distillates such as diesel, gasoil and heating oil are the primary fuels used by the industrial economy and inventories are normally strongly correlated with the manufacturing cycle.

But stocks in all the major consuming regions were severely depleted in August, despite a prolonged slowdown in manufacturing activity and freight movements over the previous year.

In every case, the deficit to the prior ten-year average has widened since March and April, putting upward pressure on prices.

Initially, the upward pressure on distillate refining margins was masked by downward pressure on the underlying prices for crude oil.

Since July, however, both crude prices and distillate refining margins have been rising, causing the total price of fuel to surge.

Wholesale prices for heating oil in the New York area were almost 66 cents per gallon or USD28 per barrel higher on average in August than they had been in June.

Nearly USD11 of the increase was attributable to higher crude prices, but more than USD16 was owing to an increase in refining margins.

We remind, Russia's Gazprom said on Tuesday that its Astrakhan gas processing plant had resumed diesel output after maintenance works. Energy Ministry Nikolai Shulginov on Monday mentioned Astrakhan as one of a number of refineries where maintenance was nearing completion, which he said should ease a shortage of fuel on the domestic market.


North America chem rail traffic rises for fourth week

North America chem rail traffic rises for fourth week

MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American chemical rail traffic rose for a fourth consecutive week as railcar loadings for the week ended 9 September were up 2.8% year on year to 43,757, with the US, Canada and Mexico all registering increases, according to Association of American Railroads.

For the first 36 weeks of 2023 ended 9 September, North American chemical rail traffic was down 1.8% year on year to 1,630,304 loadings - with the US down 3.2% to 1,119,971.

In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest. In Canada, chemical producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail.

We remind, North American chemical rail traffic rose for a third consecutive week, with railcar loadings for the week ended 2 September up 7.4% year on year to 47,935.


BP commits to Germany with USD11-B low-carbon investment push

BP commits to Germany with USD11-B low-carbon investment push

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP plans to invest up to EUR10 B (USD10.7 B) in low-carbon fuels, renewables and EV charging in Germany by the end of the decade to rival local power firms, as competition over the energy transition of Europe's largest economy intensifies, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Germany is one of a handful of countries bp is targeting to roll out at scale its strategy to shift away from fossil fuels towards low-carbon fuels and electricity.

At the heart of the German investment push are plans to expand bp's local network of electric vehicle (EV) fast chargers, decarbonize its refineries, and develop wind power. It is also weighing a local hub to import low-carbon hydrogen.

"We are talking about refineries, we are talking about the largest petrol station network in Germany, we are talking about existing business relationships, about strong brands," Patrick Wendeler, who chairs the board of bp Europe, said. "These are all excellent assets that we can build on and that others do not have in this form. That is an advantage."

The €10 B are new investments, which however include a €678 MM payment bp has to make after being awarded in July two licenses in Germany's recent offshore wind auction. bp plans to spend $55 B–$65 B on its new transition businesses between 2023 and 2030, when the sum will equal its investment in oil and gas.

Former CEO Bernard Looney, who resigned late on Tuesday in a surprise move for failing to fully disclose details of past personal relationships with colleagues, told Reuters recently he would not further scale back his energy transition strategy after ceding some ground earlier this year.

The scale of investment is bound to challenge incumbent power utilities that are struggling to compete with the financial muscle of oil firms.

bp has been operating in Germany for more than a century through predecessor companies and employs about 4,000 people there, around 6% of its total.

Wendeler said there would be areas where bp would bring in new or retain existing expertise, declining to say whether the workforce would grow as a result of the investments.

bp recently opened a new office in Hamburg which will oversee its offshore wind expansion. "We will have areas where we will consolidate, because the existing energy system is one that is declining strongly," he said, adding crude oil capacity in Germany will drop further.

bp operates two refineries in Germany — Lingen and Gelsenkirchen — as well as Aral, Germany's largest petrol station network. It also provides more than 1,700 fast EV loading spots in Germany via its Aral brand.

By 2030, bp plans to have up to 20,000 charging spots, Wendeler said, hoping to cash in on the growing adoption of EV as carmakers from Volkswagen to BMW launch new models. bp's award in Germany's offshore wind tender along with TotalEnergies made headlines, as the oil majors beat out incumbents such as RWE and Orsted.

bp will mainly use the electricity to satisfy its own demand in Germany. Rivals bidders, including Shell, Orsted and RWE, have challenged the economic rationale behind bp's bid, which it says will generate returns of 6%–8%.

RWE, which itself is planning to spend €15 B in Germany by 2030, dropped out of the race because it said the bidding had reached unsustainable levels, its CEO said.

We remind, BP expanded its investment in bioenergy today as bp ventures committed USD10 mln, leading the Series B investment round, in WasteFuel, a California-based biofuels company that will use proven, scalable technologies to convert bio-based municipal and agricultural waste into lower carbon fuels, such as bio-methanol.