Outside of an oil and gas refinery during sunset.

Chemicals and petroleum refining

Chemical production and petroleum refining account for about 20% of industrial CO2 emissions in the United States.

This industrial sector has a very broad and diverse range of products, from bulk chemicals such as methanol, ethylene, sulfuric acid, to specialty chemicals and formulated products like adhesives, paints and coatings. The manufacturing processes are equally diverse; they typically include chemical reaction steps followed by product separation and purification, and operate at temperatures ranging from ambient to 900 oC.

Heating requirements are met by either using steam or combustion heating, with the fuel required for generating steam or direct heating being typically a mixture of natural gas and recycled hydrocarbon byproducts, with the latter playing a significant role. The electrification of process heating in the chemicals and petroleum refining industry will lead to significant reductions in the associated emissions.

EPIXC research will focus on adapting existing electric heating technologies to the needs of this industrial sector, and identifying new technologies as needed. At the same time, EPIXC researchers will focus on new process designs that generate significantly lower amounts of hydrocarbon byproduct, increase flexibility in varying production rates, and are inherently safe in operation. EPIXC will also develop tools for evaluating the cost of electrified heating solutions, and the environmental and social impact of implementing them in practice.