The Netherlands – Finnish-Dutch company Coolbrook has received a grant of 5.5 million euros from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate for further development of their electrically powered naphtha cracker on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen.
Coolbrook has been working for a long time on the development of a sustainable naphtha cracker, which supplies the raw materials for plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene through a petrochemical process. The energy which is needed for this process is now generated with fossil energy sources. Coolbrook’s innovative Rotor Dynamic Reactor (RDR) technology radically changes this and eliminates the CO2 emissions of this process with use of renewable energy.
With the introduction and development of RDR technology, Coolbrook is demonstrating its commitment to making a serious contribution to the sustainability of the petrochemical industry in the Netherlands and in Europe. The recent “Fit for 55” legislation announced by the European Commission and the more stringent goals of the Dutch Climate Agreement only increase the urgency of this goal. Coolbrook therefore sees the Dutch government’s subsidy of the pilot project in Geleen with the RDR reactor as an important endorsement.
The basis for the RDR technology was laid by Coolbrook engineers in cooperation with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Ghent as well as with Neste Engineering, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Schmidtsche Schack. Originally a Finnish company, Coolbrook has been operating in Geleen, the Netherlands, since the beginning of 2020. After years of research, RDR technology is now ready to be tested on a large-scalepilot at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. This is the gateway to large-scale industrial application, and thus sustainability, of the petrochemical industry in the Netherlands and Europe.
The introduction of the RDR reactor represents a fundamental change in the cracking of naphtha. A traditional cracker heats naphtha through the walls of the furnace coils. For this reason, it is necessary for the entire furnace to be heated, which is very energy intensive. The RDR technology as developed by Coolbrook heats naphtha exclusively through the movements of a rotor. This accelerates the naphtha in the reactor above the speed of sound. The shock wave which is then generated causes the conversion of the kinetic energy into heat which makes the final cracking possible. In addition to the fact that this innovative technology provides up to 20% more ethylene output than a traditional cracker, the contribution to the energy transition and to making traditional industry and plastic production more sustainable is even more significant. Implementation of the RDR technology leads to a complete elimination of CO2 emissions, 30% reduction of energy consumption and therefore 60% more profit.