ExxonMobil and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced Thursday their development of a new system that could dramatically reduce the costs and carbon emissions in plastics manufacturing.
Exxon said the technology is 50 times more energy efficient and could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 45 million tons globally per year. The industry could also save $2 billion annually.
Researchers have developed a carbon-based membrane that acts as a filter to separate a chemical building block used to make plastics and polyester. This new system can work at room temperature, as opposed to the current industry methods that use high-energy heating processes.
Although the groups said additional testing is still needed under more challenging and long-term conditions, the results look promising as Exxon is investing in pursuing the technology for wide-scale global implementation, according to Fuel Fix.
Several companies are expanding or considering expanding their petrochemical plants as the petrochemical boom continues due to cheap and ample amounts of natural gas and natural gas liquids that are being extracted from U.S. shale.
The American Chemistry Council reports there to be more than 250 planned petrochemical projects in the U.S. through 2023, which would create roughly 70,000 jobs nationwide.