Exxon and Georgia Tech develop more efficient process for petrochemicals that reduces CO2 emissions

Fuel Fix:
A new technology could dramatically reduce the costs and carbon emissions in the manufacturing of the world’s plastics supplies, researchers from Exxon Mobil and the Georgia Institute of Technology said Thursday.

The new system, which is still in development, is 50 times more energy efficient and could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 45 million tons globally per year — the equivalent emissions of 5 million U.S. homes, Exxon said. The industry also could save $2 billion annually.

The Exxon and Georgia Tech scientists worked together and published their findings Thursday in the prominent academic journal Science.

RELATED: Exxon Mobil technology could cut $200M from yearly petrochemical costs

They’ve essentially developed a carbon-based membrane that can separate molecules as small as a nanometer — one-billionth the size of a meter (A sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick). The membrane acts as a filter to separate a chemical building block, called para-xylene, used to make plastics and polyester. The current industry methods use high-energy heating processes to separate those molecules. The new system can work at room temperature.

“In effect, we’d be using a filter with microscopic holes to do what an enormous amount of heat and energy currently do in a chemical process similar to that found in oil refining,” said Mike Kerby, corporate strategic research manager at Exxon Mobil, in a prepared statement.
There is more.

The process still needs some refinement and testing to determine the longevity of the membrane used in the process.  It is an important development because Big Green has no alternative to the petrochemical business which is vital to modern life.  It is something that cannot be reproduced with wind or solar energy.


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