Circular gas: Eni and NextChem studying plant in Taranto, Italy

 In Fuels, NEWS & INTERVIEWS, Technical innovation

The project could well lead to the production of syngas from plastics and secondary solid fuel derived from waste, thereby making a contribution to de-carbonisation and the socio-economic recovery of the local area

Plant producing synthesis gas from mixed plastics (plasmix) and secondary solid fuel (Ssf) from urban waste processing may well be installed in Eni‘s Taranto (Italy) refinery. The project involves Eni and NextChem, the Maire Tecnimont subsidiary for green chemistry. The agreement signed recently by the two companies seeks to define the feasibility of plant using a chemical recycling process to convert the previously undifferentiated mixed plastics found in post-consumer packaging that is not recycled as single polymers into a gas mixture.

The gas would then be refined in two separate flows: one with hydrogen and one rich in carbon monoxide. The hydrogen could be sent to the Eni refinery to feed fuel hydrodesulphurisation processes, i.e. to eliminate the sulphur; the other gas could be used in steelworks, in blast furnace processes as well as new direct reduction iron production technologies, i.e. obtaining metallic iron from ore without melting.

A joint work group will investigate the technical, economic and production flow feasibility. NextChem is analysing the latest aspects related to the industrial application of this initiative. Local institutions will also be involved in the project. The new plant could well make a significant contribution to de-carbonisation in the steel industry.

Compared to current Ssf and pla processing by means of waste-to-energy systems, the technological solution proposed by NextChem would ensure significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from a life cycle analysis perspective, with positive consequences in terms of environmental impact, in accordance with circular economy principles.

The agreement with NextChem is part of Eni‘s broader long-term strategy whereby the group seeks to become a leader in the production and marketing of decarbonised products. The company’s strategic plan envisages achieving an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 by developing renewable sources, producing gas, LNG and hydrogen from gas and bio-origin raw materials, eliminating carbon dioxide from them by means of sequestration and storage, and generating bio-fuels in the company’s bio-refineries.

Eni and NextChem launched their partnership one year ago and are already working on two other projects: one to build “Waste to Hydrogen” plant at the Eni bio-refinery in Porto Marghera, Venice, and the other for “Waste to Methanol” plant in the Eni refinery in Livorno.