Environmental

Tackling a classic Recycling challenge: a world-class JV is set to turn waste into value…

For decades, one of the thorniest issues in the petrochemicals sector has been the recycling of chemical catalysts – even though successful recycling can actually produce core components for processes such as high-grade steel production.

Now, Advanced Metallurgical Group (AMG) and Shell Catalysts and Technologies (Shell) have announced that they have signed an agreement to form a joint venture to provide long-term sustainable solution for catalyst reclamation and recycling. The new JV will be called Shell & AMG Recycling BV. Shell provides catalysts to refiners and petrochemical operators, while AMG recycles spent catalysts to produce ferro-vanadium and ferro-nickel-molybdenum.

Dr Heinz C Schimmelbusch, chairman and CEO, AMG, said: “AMG has developed a world-leading spent-catalyst recycling technology and we are very pleased to be able to form this joint venture and thereby significantly expand and deepen our 17-year relationship with Shell.”

“With the implementation of the IMO 2020 fuel sulphur regulation we expect significant spent-catalyst volume growth.  The end-to-end option that will be available to oil refineries will represent an outstanding CO2 reduction opportunity.”

Andy Gosse, president, Shell, said: “These changing regulations and an increased focus on oil to chemicals in our industry have significantly increased the number of residue-upgrading units already in operation, in construction or being planned.”

“With this opportunity comes the environmental challenge managing the large volume of catalysts that will be required.  Coupled with Shell’s existing offering, we will be able to deliver refiners the option of a truly circular solution, turning waste into value, replacing disposal with recycling and reuse, and significantly reducing pollution and emissions.”

According to a statement from AMG, refineries will benefit from the combined technical capabilities and integrated resources of Shell & AMG Recycling by reducing the risk and cost of transporting and disposing of spent catalysts and eliminating the need to landfill.  In addition, they will benefit from the monetisation of the valuable metals contained in their waste.

The process employed by Shell & AMG Recycling extracts critical materials, including vanadium, in the form of ferrovanadium from spent catalysts.  Ferrovanadium is an alloy which increases the strength of steel and is primarily used in infrastructure applications such as rebar or girders.  Through the reclamation of ferrovanadium from spent catalysts, steel manufacturers benefit from a low CO2 alternative compared to sourcing the vanadium through mining, it said.

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