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Big oil meets bio-based as Saudi Aramco buys a $100m sustainable polyol technology.

Posted on Nov 15, 2016 10:44:00 PM

Aramco refinery.jpg"...cleaner, high-value end-products with significant performance, cost and carbon footprint improvements."

Saudi Aramco or to give them their full name, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, might seem an unlikely company to feature on our pages. Thought by many to be the world's most valuable company, it has both the world's largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels and largest daily oil production across their many huge facilities (see their huge Ras Tanura oil terminal pictured right). But for even companies with fortunes built on hydrocarbons and fossil fuels, the potential of sustainable alternatives is becoming clear. And this month, we've received very big news, that Saudi Aramco have acquired the Converge product line and associated operations and technologies from U.S.-based Novomer Inc. in a deal valued up to $100 Million US dollars.

Converge is manufactured from and contains a significant portion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The technology provides a high-performance, cost competitive and more sustainable alternative to conventional petroleum-based polyols that are used in Coating, Adhesive, Sealant, and Elastomer (CASE) applications which feature in high-value, high-demand end-products, including within the flexible and rigid foam manufacturing segments. Applications cover a broad spectrum from automobile seats to building insulation panels.

Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco ( @Saudi_Aramco ) President & CEO said: “Some of Saudi Aramco’s most significant achievements in recent years have been in developing new international partnerships in the downstream space. There is compelling industrial logic to the Converge polyol technology deal as it enables the conversion of waste CO2 into cleaner, high-value end-products with significant performance, cost and carbon footprint improvements.The deal also enables the development of new technological growth areas in line with Saudi Vision 2030 objectives of economic diversification and job creation.”

Jim Mahoney, Novomer President, said: “The entire Novomer team is truly excited by this acquisition. Soon after we commercialized the Converge polyol technology we entered into a strategic relationship with Saudi Aramco and for the past two and one-half years have worked together to expand the commercial potential of this exciting technology. This acquisition is the culmination of that significant team effort. I commend Aramco on its strategic vision and commitment to innovation.” Mahoney also added: “Novomer will use the proceeds from this acquisition to fully commercialize its COEthTM (EO/CO) process to make low cost, sustainable C-3 and C-4 products, including glacial acrylic acid, butanediol, polypropiolactone and succinic acid.”

Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, the Acting Senior Vice President of Downstream, Saudi Aramco added: “The acquisition of the Converge technology reflects the success of Saudi Aramco’s efforts to continuously seek the best possible opportunity for the commercialization of specific downstream technologies on a large-scale. This technology represents an excellent marriage of improved product quality and lower cost while achieving environmental benefits.” Judaimi concluded: “By providing access to reliable feedstock supplies, financial stability and unrivalled R&D investment and focus, Saudi Aramco will accelerate the commercialization of these exciting new polyol materials. This will help spur growth in the production of more sustainable finished and semi-finished products in the petrochemicals conversion sector, including within the small and medium enterprise sector in Saudi Arabia.”

Compared to conventional polyols, Converge polyols have approximately one-third the carbon footprint. When incorporated into polyurethane formulations, they demonstrate superior material performance including: increased strength; increased abrasion, chemical and weather resistance; increased adhesion, hardness and tear-strength; greater load bearing capacity; and reduced heat of combustion.

Saudi Aramco will manufacture and market Converge and associated products through its subsidiary, Aramco Performance Materials LLC (APM). Saudi Aramco is planning for full-scale production facilities in Saudi Arabia to support the manufacture of specialty and intermediate chemical products to supply a wide variety of industries.

About Saudi Aramco’s Holistic Carbon Capture Approach

Saudi Aramco’s carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology deployment and research & development activities are part of a holistic approach to complement Saudi Arabia’s broader energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) management framework.

In July 2015, Saudi Aramco launched Saudi Arabia’s first carbon capture and storage pilot project at the ‘Uthmaniyah field and Hawiyah facilities. Currently the largest such project in the Middle East, it will inject 800,000 tons of CO2 every year. Saudi Aramco has also pioneered research on capturing CO2 from mobile sources, developing a prototype vehicle that can capture up to 25% CO2 in real driving conditions. In 2013 Saudi Aramco made a venture investment in Novomer, through its Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) subsidiary, to help accelerate the development and commercialization of the Converge technology.


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Topics: BBWNChemicals, ProcessRefining&Plants

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About the Author

Luke Upton
Luke Upton
Luke is the editor and co-founder of Bio-Based World has edited this site since its launch and previously worked for b2b media companies across industries including energy, advertising and sport. His ...read more