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U.S. Department of Energy awards ACC members $14.7 million to improve operational energy efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded a combined $14.7 million in R&D grants to three members of the American Chemistry Council as part of a federal economic initiative to improve energy efficiency in key manufacturing operations.

According to a DoE press release, $1.2 million will be granted to Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., a leading manufacturer of industrial gases; $9 million will go to The Dow Chemical Company; and $4.5 million will be given to Houston-based chemicals company LyondellBasell.

Air Products will use the DoE grant to develop a “microbial reverse electrodialysis technology” to recover waste heat and convert wastewater into electricity and chemical products like hydrogen gas.

Dow will use the money to design an improved carbon-fiber manufacturing process — used to develop automobile parts, wind turbine components and other industrial materials — that could result in a 20% cost reduction and 50% decrease in carbon emissions.

About one-half of the LyondellBassell grant will go toward improving the energy efficiency of the company’s ethylene production capacity. The company plans to develop a product that reduces or eliminates carbon buildup on ethane cracker equipment.

Ethylene is a common building block of plastics and a critical component of U.S. chemical and manufacturing competitiveness, as Tim Roberts, LyondellBasell senior vice president of olefins and polyolefins – Americas, said in a statement:

Access to low-cost ethane from shale gas over the past three years has changed the competitive position of the U.S. chemical industry. This grant helps to facilitate faster development of catalyst-assisted technology for ethane cracking.

Even a 6 to 10% per plant reduction in energy consumption would result in 20-35 trillion Btus in annual energy savings, further strengthening U.S. competitiveness in petrochemical production, according to DoE.

DoE said that it has awarded more than $54 million for 13 projects across the country to advance other technologies and materials that can help American manufacturers see dramatic gains in energy efficiency while reducing costs.

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