Synthesis Gas Plant: ENI and Nextchem Join Forces

Italian oil and gas company Eni has partnered with Maire Tecnimont Group’s subsidiary NextChem to set up a new syngas plant at the Taranto refinery.

Currently, the two companies are already collaborating on the implementation of a waste-to-hydrogen infrastructure at the Eni Bio refinery in Venice. At the same time, they are working on a project for a waste-to-methanol plant in the Livorno area.

synthetic gas
Eni Refinery in Taranto – Credits: Alessandro Bianchi

Eni’s strategy

This agreement signed between the two companies is part of Eni’s long-term strategy. It aims to make Eni one of the world leaders in the production and marketing of carbonized products.

To achieve this, Eni intends to implement a strategic plan that should enable it to reduce its absolute net greenhouse gas emissions. This ambition should be achieved by 2050.

Eni’s different productions

Eni intends to increase its production of green energy through the development of its renewable energies. In parallel, it produces gas and biological raw materials, while eliminating their carbon dioxide emissions. It will also produce biofuels in its bio-refineries, methanol and hydrogen from waste. Finally, the firm will develop chemicals from renewable sources.

Based on a circular economy, the implementation of these projects should have a positive impact on the environment.

Eni-NextChem, the strings of the partnership

NextChem works on issues related to the industrial application, while the Eni-NextChem team evaluates the technical and economic feasibility of plant projects.

Collaborative solutions

Eni and NextChem are investigating whether it is possible for a refining company to produce syngas from plasmix and dry waste through a chemical recycling process.

“The plasmix is a material resulting from the selective sorting, the treatments and the industrial mixtures of the various types of plastic derived from the recycling of these materials which were not previously the object of sorting” (via
All Green
)

synthetic gas
The Plasmix (via: Lifeplasmix)

Eni said in a statement that,

“The gas produced will then be refined and separated through two separate channels: hydrogen, which can be used by Eni’s refinery to assist the fuel hydrodesulfurization process; high carbon monoxide gas that can be used by the steel mill in both blast furnace processes and new direct iron reduction technologies.”

What are syngas?

Syngas is a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. This gas is produced by gasification of a fuel containing carbon.

The name “synthesis gas” is derived from its use. Indeed, it is an intermediate in the production of synthetic natural gas, ammonia and methanol as well as in the production of petroleum, lubricant or fuel. In other words, it is a useful gas for synthesizing others.

The properties of synthetic gas

Syngas has about 50% of the energy density of natural gas. It cannot be burned, but can be used as a fuel source

Synthetic gases can be used in many areas such as gas lighting or sponge iron production. It is also used in the manufacture of diesel, methanol and hydrogen.

These syngas can take 3 different forms:

  • Hydrogen from water electrolysis
  • Synthetic methane that is already found in some public transport
  • Liquid fuel.

The advantages of syngas

Its first advantage, and not the least, is its storage and consequently, the storage of the energy it produces because this production does not depend on the wind, or the light intensity… it does not fluctuate.

Also these gases can be deployed quite quickly in all sectors, whether it is of daily life or industry: heating, transport, electricity…

The syngas can be moved in the traditional distribution networks, which generally reassures the customers.

A market that is yet to be created

In the near future, the countries with the highest sunshine rate will stand out on the synthetic gas market because their production costs will be lower and transport costs negligible. Why them? Because the development of syngas implies a multiplication of infrastructures producing renewable energies like photovoltaic panels.

In other words, the market would no longer rely on oil exporters, and should redistribute the cards of the world energy market.

However, this market does not yet exist because the demand remains very low. The youth of this technology makes investors a little shy.

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