AkzoNobel to ‘close the loop’ by turning waste into commercial chemicals

Dutch paint and chemicals giant AkzoNobel is part of a team of companies looking to convert waste streams into synthesis gas - a useful starting material for making methane and ammonia.

Aimed at encouraging a circular economy, the scheme will be tested on various local waste streams, including residual municipal and agricultural waste.

“Given the growing concerns over raw material and energy scarcity – the need to innovate and develop less traditional solutions is becoming ever more important,” said Werner Fuhrmann, AkzoNobel’s executive committee member responsible for Specialty Chemicals.

“To accelerate these innovations we are entering into strategic partnerships, all focused on replacing non-renewable raw materials, which could have major environmental benefits.”

Bolt-on technology

The conversion technology will be supplied by Montreal cleantech firm Enerkem, and benefits from being complementary to existing technologies, such as recycling and anaerobic digestion.

Enerkem CEO Vincent Chornet said: “We are pleased to be working with AkzoNobel and partners to further demonstrate Enerkem’s ability to recycle the carbon contained in non-recyclable waste into renewable chemicals.

“These chemical building blocks hold countless potential applications, and with our combined efforts to develop waste-to-chemicals facilities in Europe, the shift towards a circular economy now appears to be truly within reach.”

With Enerkem providing the conversion technology, and AkzoNobel handling the later chemical production, other partners in the scheme will handle the waste processing, and project financing.

Within the next two to three years, the associates are aiming to open a plant in Delfzijl or Rotterdam to become the first in Europe to utilise the new technology.

AkzoNobel is shortlisted in edie’s Sustainability Leaders Awards for their sustainability reporting.

Brad Allen

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