Fuel, lubricant additives, oil, speciality chemicals - sustainability?
Many people outside of speciality chemicals might think it’s odd to pair these products and this industry with a concept like sustainability. Isn’t specialty chemicals anti-sustainability?
Through working with experts and forward-thinking companies in this industry, I know that times are changing. The speciality chemicals industry is committed to becoming more environmentally friendly and has been making positive changes for decades.
The opportunities for green innovation are substantial in this sector. There have been advances in sustainably produced renewable feedstocks, biocatalysts and biotechnology, waste materials as feedstocks and more.
However, I want to focus on the area I recruit in and know is at the heart of this revolution: the fuel, oil & lubricant additives market.
In this mark, much attention has been focused on manufacturing facilities to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, while also handling waste product more responsibly (read about waste-to-energy).
Oronite, a subsidy of Chevron, are at the centre of this and are active in the sustainability conversation as member of the forums ATC, the American Centre for LifeCycle Assessment and the American Chemistry Council.
Their Omaezaki plant in Japan is a prime example of how they’ve become a sustainable and responsible company, with the facility reducing its energy consumption by more than 30% since 2006.
This is credit to a range of energy efficiency initiatives. Between 2008 and 2009, the plant replaced its inverter compressors with high-efficiency boilers and introduced a cooling water pump control. In 2015 and 2016, there was an increase in boiler energy savings due to insulation of piping and changes in the operational procedure.
The Omaezaki plant is just one example on a long list of sustainability success stories at Oronite, who are also enabling automotive engine hardware changes that reduce GHG emissions and using new technology with decanters in the production process to recycle sulfonate waste.
Going forward Oronite aim to reduce energy consumption annually by a rate of 1% via new energy efficient equipment and upgrades.
Infineum, a competing multinational, have enjoyed similar success to Oronite in their sustainability projects.
In February, they made history at their Business and Technology Centre in Linden, New Jersey, managing to power the site for 24 hours solely by their own electricity.
This power was generated by two-megawatt solar fields made up of over six thousand solar panels. The panels combined produce an impressive 3.4 million kilowatt hours annually – around a third of the site’s annual consumption.
Infineum estimate that this investment in solar energy will reduce CO2e emissions from the Linden site by approximately 1,300 mT annually.
This investment at the Linden site, follows recent solar panel installations at other Infineum sites in the UK and Singapore with the company continuing to strive for a sustainable future.
Like Infineum and Oronite, Lubrizol have taken the responsibility upon themselves to act sustainably through initiatives to minimise their carbon footprint and protect natural resources.
This includes their work in water, which is an increasingly stretched natural resource. By protecting waterways and using less water in manufacturing of formulations, the company have reduced their water usage 22% (against the company’s baseline).
Other major players, like Afton, have taken a different approach to their sustainability mission – focusing on improvements in their product offerings.
This is reflected by the HiTEC 410, which is a cost effective cetane improver additive used to raise the cetane number of both petrodiesel and biodiesel fuels. This has green advantages like lowering exhaust emissions, especially Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), from diesel engines.
These reduced levels of NOx emissions are important for surrounding vegetation, which can suffer from damaged foliage, decreased growth and reduced crop yields otherwise.
Novvi, a joint venture of Chevron, have also taken a product-focused approach to sustainability with their full range of 100% renewable products originating from plant oils, designed to balance performance and sustainability.
Renewable products like this are exciting for the speciality chemicals industry, allowing businesses to thrive in the most strenuous applications, while simultaneously helping the planet.
It’s encouraging to see that so many companies are embracing the responsibility to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. I’m excited to see more companies follow these footsteps in the wider world of specialty chemicals and help preserve our planet for future generations.
As a recruiter specialising in this space, I’d be really interested to hear what you think about this article and learn what your company is doing to be sustainable. Please also get in touch if you would like to take advantage of my recruitment services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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