Implementation of renewed EO catalyst
We want to use less energy and produce less CO2. This not only provides an economic benefit but is also an improvement in terms of sustainability. The Next Gen EO Catalyst project contributes to this. In addition to optimizing the use of raw materials, the project team is also striving to ensure that the catalyst operates optimally and sustainably.
Our EO plants use a silver catalyst. This causes the raw material ethylene to react with the added oxygen molecules. This creates the semi-finished product Ethylene Oxide (EO). This is used, among other things, for the preparation of antifreeze and as a raw material for plastics. Unfortunately, during this process not all the ethylene is converted to EO, but also some to CO2. The project team is investigating how to optimize the reaction between the raw materials, so that Dow makes more EO and produces less CO2. The team is also trying to counteract the aging of the catalyst, which leads to producing less EO and using more energy. The team is trying to counteract aging by, among other things, adding very small amounts of promoters to the silver catalyst. These are special elements, such as alkali salts, that improve performance.
The research takes place in our own High Throughput Lab in Terneuzen. Here, improved versions of these catalysts are devised and tested on a small scale. Once a successful composition is found, the team sends the results to a lab in the United States. Colleagues in the US then scale up the catalyst preparation and test it further in a larger pilot plant. We continue to conduct ongoing research in the lab to improve the catalyst. The ideas, once successfully tested in the pilot plant, are implemented worldwide. We are also making the technology available to several other EO producers.