Challenges to Scale Up the Decarbonization Technology

by Duane Nichols on September 28, 2021

Petrochemical industry is a major source of GHG

CEO INTERVIEW: BASF to scale up new decarbonisation tech in second half of decade

From an Article by Joseph Chang, Independent Commodity Intelligence Service (ICIS), September 22, 2021

NEW YORK (ICIS)–BASF in March announced an accelerated target to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2030 from a 2018 base, on the way to zero net CO2 emissions by 2050. Germany-based BASF aims to scale up two key decarbonisation technologies in the second half of the decade, its CEO said.

“There are innovative technologies in the pilot phase now – one of them is the electric cracker and the other is methane pyrolysis – two key technologies to actually manage this transformation,” said Martin Brudermuller, CEO of BASF, at a fireside chat during the ICIS Power Players Awards virtual event.

“We are now building pilot facilities – the first entry of these technologies, to learn about them. And then we have to go very quickly into scale-up. And the scale-up will then be in the second half of this decade, so that we will have the first real contribution [by] 2030,” he added.

Brudermuller is the winner of the 2021 ICIS CEO of the Year Award, having been selected by his peers among the ICIS Top 40 Power Players.

In March, BASF joined forces with SABIC and Linde to develop the world’s first electrically heated steam cracker furnace, which would use electricity to heat furnaces rather than natural gas. If the electricity comes from renewables such as wind and solar, the new technology could slash emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by as much as 90%, according to the companies. Along with the technological challenges from pilot phase through scale-up, cheap and abundant renewable power is needed to make this work – a wider infrastructure and policy challenge.

“It is not easy. It is not only the technology itself – it’s also about the framework of conditions. And as we all know, it is electricity prices that will determine that this is not only a nice technology exercise but also… economic. So it’s a huge challenge, but also… a very interesting test to facilitate this transformation,” said Brudermuller.

BASF is also working with Siemens to increase energy efficiency through the use of electrical heat pumps to produce CO2-free steam from waste heat.


Along with electrifying crackers, the company is working on producing CO2-free hydrogen via methane pyrolysis, where it has developed a new process technology. In this process, methane is heated in a reactor to produce hydrogen, with solid carbon granulates as a byproduct.

If the heating is done with renewable electricity, it would be a CO2-free process. The hydrogen from methane pyrolysis could be a key building block for CO2-reduced production of ammonia and methanol, according to the company.


NOTE: Emissions of GHG from industry exceed the emissions from either the buildings or transport sector, and represent more than 30% of global GHG emissions. Within the industrial sector, chemical production together with cement production and metals are the biggest sources of emissions. A second installment of the above Article will appear here tomorrow. DGN

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