Dow and Shell demonstrate progress for lower CO2 emission crackers


€3.5 million funding secured from Dutch Government, adds new collaboration partners in development of electrified-cracking technologies

Following announcement of a joint development agreement in June 2020, Dow and Shell report progress on their technology program to electrically heat steam cracker furnaces. This new route has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from one of the central processes of the chemical industry. 

The companies confirm that the joint program has been awarded €3.5 million (USD$4.2 million) in MOOI (Mission-driven Research, Development and Innovation subsidy) scheme funding by the Netherlands Government. They also announce joining forces with The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT).

In the first year, the program has advanced electrification solutions for today’s steam crackers while also pursuing game-changing technologies for novel designs of electrified crackers in the longer-term. The dual-path approach aims to support significant emission reductions required to meet the companies’ 2030 CO2 ambitions and their targets to be net zero emissions businesses by 2050 or sooner, in step with society.  Joint teams in the Netherlands and the United States have deployed their expertise in electrical design, metallurgy, hydrocarbon technology and computational fluid dynamics to narrow down concepts, validate emissions benefits, advance patents, demonstrate the durability of electric heating elements, and partner with equipment suppliers. 

The research done in the first route will lead to a demonstration plant in 2025, and the second route will result in a pilot plant in 2027. Both of these plants are not included within this project period.

The two new collaborators bring further expertise and a common commitment to a low-carbon future. This multi-company collaboration aims to accelerate key milestones for the near-term progress and longer-term breakthroughs needed. TNO has deep knowledge in high temperature heat transfer applications and plays a leading role in identifying innovative electrical technologies that could be deployed in industry. It is a founding partner of the state-of-the-art Field Laboratory Industrial Electrification in Rotterdam.  ISPT is focused on the system integration of preferred concepts, connecting the dynamics of breakthrough technologies with those of utilities and infrastructure in the chemicals industry through the energy transition.

“Our multidisciplined team has forged a strong working foundation and made significant progress in the first year of our multi-generational plan,” Keith Cleason, Vice President Dow Olefins, Aromatics and Alternatives business. “We are pleased to add ISPT and TNO to the joint programme as they bring complementary expertise and share the same drive to bring viable, low-carbon technologies online as soon as they are feasible.”

Thomas Casparie, Executive Vice President of Shell’s global chemicals business, said “Being selected for funding from the Dutch Government is a vote of confidence in the initial progress of this joint e-cracking program, and its potential to help transform the chemicals industry. The effort is an example of genuine cross-company collaboration to accelerate decarbonisation, and it’s great to have our two new partners aboard.”


This project is co-funded with subsidy from the Topsector Energy by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.