- Coolbrook and ABB to simplify integration and accelerate uptake of transformative technology that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the steam cracking process through electrification
- Collaboration will combine expertise to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and improve yield by 20 percent in ethylene production
- Pilot program to commence this year at groundbreaking Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, Netherlands
ABB and Finnish technology company Coolbrook have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to commercialize and accelerate the adoption of Roto Dynamic Reactor (RDR) technology in a bid to significantly reduce GHG emissions in steam cracking plants. The agreement will unite the two companies’ expertise and create a combined offering of Coolbrook’s novel electrically driven RDR technology and ABB’s integrated, pre-engineered energy solutions, initially for use in petrochemical and chemical markets.
Olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, are the key raw materials used in the chemical industry – primarily for polymer production. Currently, the leading technology for olefin production is steam cracking by high-temperature pyrolysis (thermal decomposition) of primarily hydrocarbon feedstock, diluted with steam inside a cracking furnace.
Coolbrook’s novel turbomachine will be able to replace a conventional furnace by directly imparting the rotor shaft’s mechanical energy to the hydrocarbon fluid. This is achieved by aerodynamic action through a rotating blade flow. When powered by electricity from renewable sources, the technology completely eliminates CO2 emissions in the steam cracking process. Coolbrook technology can also be operated with various feedstocks, including recycled and renewable feedstocks.
This groundbreaking RDR technology will be underpinned by ABB’s expertise in delivering automation, electrification and digitalization to optimize operational processes and simplify integration. ABB will further enhance the energy efficiency of Coolbrook’s solution through the integration of its electric motors and variable speed drives. The combined ABB and Coolbrook offering will facilitate and accelerate the uptake of this groundbreaking technology, enabling petrochemical and olefin producers to meet their net zero ambitions.
According to the International Energy Agency’s ‘Tracking Industry 2021’ report, direct global CO2 emissions from chemicals and petrochemical processes amounted to 1.2 billion metric tons in 2020. Electrifying process industries will significantly reduce carbon emissions, and ABB has committed to support their customers in reducing their annual CO2 emissions by 100 million metric tons by 2030.
Ilpo Kuokkanen, Executive Chairman of Coolbrook, said:
Coolbrook has set a target to build a committed and comprehensive ecosystem around its revolutionary RDR technology to commercialize it as soon as possible. ABB will become a key partner in that ecosystem with the aim of accelerating the process substantially. Our RDR technology and ABB’s technology perfectly complement each other. Together, we will offer a first of its kind electric, carbon-free solution for one of the biggest industrial processes in the world.”
Applying a standardized and modular approach, the collaboration will support customers from FEED stage and incorporate RDR package, electric motor and drive, automation, safety, power distribution, instrumentation and analyzers, condition monitoring and full digitalization. As a result, chemical producers will benefit from increased operational yields, lower operating costs, easier maintenance and lower capital costs.
Colin Ward, Senior Vice President for ABB Energy Industries Chemicals & Refining, added: “Electrification of steam crackers in ethylene production provides a pathway to reduce emissions in these processes by 300 million metric tons annually worldwide. ABB is working with partners to bring sustainable solutions to enable our customers to reduce GHG emissions, waste and energy usage, while responsibly supporting the world’s energy transition.”