BP agrees to buy naphtha from Teesside circular plastics plant

Article by Adam Duckett

BP has signed an agreement to purchase naphtha produced from a plant being built in Teesside, UK by Clean Planet Energy that will convert hard-to-recycle plastics into chemical feedstocks and fuels.

Clean Energy Planet is constructing its first plant in Teesside and plans to build 11 more across the world. The Teesside plant will have the capacity to process 20,000 t/y of plastic. The company says its pyrolysis and upgrading process allows it to convert harder-to-recycle plastics including polypropylene, polystyrene, and PVC.

BP has signed a ten-year offtake agreement for the naphtha from the Teesside plant, which in turn can be used to produce more plastics as efforts grow to close the loop on plastics manufacturing which currently sees huge volumes of plastics used and then discarded, often into the environment, incinerated, or buried in landfill.

Sven Boss-Walker, SVP Refining & Products Trading at BP, said: “This long-term agreement with Clean Planet Energy for the offtake of naphtha will help BP unlock new sources of value through circularity.”

BP said the deal provides the company with the opportunity to expand the relationship and buy products from Clean Energy Planet’s future processing plants, which are planned in the UK, France, Finland, US, Dominican Republic, and the Philippines. 

The conversion process involves shredding waste plastic, feeding it into a pyrolysis reactor where it is heated to around 400°C in the absence of oxygen. This breaks down the long-chain hydrocarbons into a solid called carbon black which can be sold into manufacturing; pyrolysis offtake gas which is combusted to heat the conversion process; and a liquid. The liquid passes to a second upgrading stage involving an adaptive hydroprocessing technology that the team says will use green hydrogen to minimise the environmental footprint of its process. This is followed by a single-stage distillation column that will allow operators to flexibly produce naphtha, fuel oil and ultra-clean, low-sulfur diesel.

Clean Planet Energy has set a goal to remove over 1m t/y of waste from the environment. Katerina Garyfalou, Director of Business Development at Clean Planet Energy, said: “We set out to find an international energy company to work with that we felt understood our vision. BP not only put sustainability performance at the heart of its discussions with us from day one, but its global-leading refining and trading businesses means our naphtha product can have an impact in helping to advance a circular economy.”

The Teesside plant is set to begin operations in the first half of 2023.

BP plans a series of investments in the region including a proposed blue hydrogen facility, a CCS infrastructure partnership, and is collaborating with educators to help train people for the greener industries being created in Teesside.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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