Turning waste into chemicals

Consortium planning pioneering facility

As concern about the scarcity of energy and raw materials continues to grow, AkzoNobel is among a group of companies looking to use waste to make chemicals.

Doing more with less

In an ideal world, there’s no such thing as waste. It might sound far-fetched, but a consortium of leading companies, including AkzoNobel, is exploring how to make it a reality.

Together, the partners are investigating the feasibility of using waste as a feedstock to make chemicals. The project began in 2014 as a collaboration between AkzoNobel, several other Dutch organizations and Canadian firm Enerkem.

Enerkem has developed technology which converts waste into synthesis gas – a common source material in the production of products such as methanol and ammonia. These products, in turn, are important in the production of many other products in the chemical industry.

More sustainable

“There is a clear need for innovation that allows us to develop new, more sustainable sources of raw materials for our production processes,” explains Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Director of RD&I for AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. “Enerkem’s technology is precisely that – an innovation that addresses our needs on the production side, while also addressing issues on the waste disposal side.”

Commercial activity

To date, 14 partners have joined the consortium. Together, they have all the required expertise to move the initiative from its current exploratory phase into a commercial activity that starts with waste collection and ends with production and the sale of useful products.

The consortium aims to establish a functioning plant in the Netherlands in the near future as a first facility in Europe to use the new technology.