Asahi Kasei has teamed up with Shell to source feedstock derived from waste plastic to manufacture sustainable solution-polymerized styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR) in Singapore. S-SBR is a type of synthetic rubber used mainly for high-performance fuel-efficient tires (eco-friendly tires). Demand for eco-friendly tires is growing worldwide with stricter environmental regulations and heightened environmental awareness. By enhancing fuel-efficiency performance while maintaining safety performance, S-SBR is recognized as an optimum material for eco-friendly tires. To accelerate efforts for decarbonization to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the automotive industry is transitioning to electric vehicles while the tire industry is further improving the fuel-efficiency and wear resistance of tires. Against this background, there is rising demand for greater sustainability of S-SBR as a material for eco-friendly tires.
Shell will produce sustainable butadiene by mass balance* method in two ways at Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore, located on Bukom. The first is a method of converting plastic waste into pyrolysis oil and feeding it to its ethylene cracker Complex, and the second is using bio-feedstock as a feed. Asahi Kasei will be the world’s first company to use butadiene derived from plastic waste, and the first Japanese company to use butadiene derived from biomass, for S-SBR production (based on its to internal research).
Image: Asahi Kasei
Shell will build a new pyrolysis oil upgrader unit that improves the quality of pyrolysis oil, a liquid made from hard-to-recycle plastic waste that would have gone into a landfill, and turns it into chemical feedstock for its plant. Slated to start production in 2023, the unit at Shell’s manufacturing site on Pulau Bukom will be the largest in Asia and Shell’s first globally, with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year. What it processes is equivalent to the weight of about 7.8 billion plastic bags.
Shell will use the treated pyrolysis oil to produce circular chemicals that are used in hundreds of useful, everyday products, from tyres to mattresses. This responds to growing customer demand as evidenced by its first circular chemicals agreement in Asia with Asahi Kasei.
Subject to a final investment decision, Shell also plans a 550,000-tonnes/year biofuels facility, where hydrogen made from renewable resources and bio-feedstock, such as used cooking oils and animal fats, can be turned into low-carbon fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable diesel for road transport or renewable chemicals.