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As the global focus intensifies on defossilisation and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, the production of more sustainable fuels and materials is taking centre stage.

Our Scientific Advisory Committee’s member Peter Styring is among the co-authors of the article “Production of Propane and Propene Via Carbon Capture Utilisation: Comparison of its Environmental and Economic Performance Against Conventional Production Methods”, looking at the viability of Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) production methods of propane and propene by assessing them economically and environmentally, against the conventional production pathways which use natural gas and crude oil as feedstock.

Key findings

🟢 Environmental Impact: The study identified that grid electricity, predominantly utilised in hydrogen production, emerged as the main contributor to all impact categories for propane production.

🟢 Grid Electricity Influence: Grid electricity played a pivotal role in the model, especially in a U.S. context, where coal and natural gas combustion accounted for two-thirds of total electricity generation.

🟢 Carbon and Water Savings: Compared to natural gas fractionation, propane production via CCU with AB (Autothermal Reforming) and the U.S. electricity mix scenario achieved a remarkable 2.8 kg CO₂ saving per kg propane.

🟢 Propene: The novel CCU method showcased promising results for propene production, with significant savings across all impact factors.

🟢 Hydrogen Technology: The choice of hydrogen technology proved to be the real determinant of both economic and environmental performance throughout the model.

🟢 Economic Viability: It was observed that employing SOEC technology resulted in a positive NPV of $786 million and a payback period of 2.62 years.

🟢 Cost: Propane production costs were notably higher at $1.14 per kg due to the relatively low production costs of Natural Gas Liquids.

🟢 Technology Readiness and Future Outlook: While the MTP (Methanol to Propylene) technology employed in the model poses minimal deployment risk, the syngas-to-propane technology remains at a low technology readiness level.

The findings of this study provide concrete evidence that CCU methods of propane and propene production can achieve both environmental superiority and economic feasibility. They not only reinforce the potential of carbon capture but also underscore the vast opportunities in syngas production, CO₂ utilisation, and its transformation into valuable materials. Particularly in hard-to-abate sectors or where electrification of heat is not viable, CCU offers a compelling solution.

Find the paper here.

More on our Scientific Advisory Committee here.