Polymers and higher olefins: the economics?

This data-file captures the economics of polymerizing or oligomerizing unsaturated feedstocks (such as ethylene), in order to make plastics and higher olefins.


Our base case for producing high density polyethylene (HDPE) from ethylene requires pricing of $1,250/ton for a 10% IRR on a new greenfield plant.

CO2 intensity runs at 0.3 tons of CO2 per ton of product, and can be c80-90% lower than the prior step of ethane cracking.

However conditions can vary vastly, from 50-300C and 50-25,000 psi, for different polymers and processes. Different options can be stress-tested in the model, backed up by technical data, past projects and our notes.

Construction materials: a screen of costs and CO2 intensities?

This data-file compares different construction materials, calculating the costs, the embedded energy and the embedded CO2 of different construction materials per m2 of wall space.


The file captures both capex and opex: i.e., the production of the materials and the ongoing costs associated with heating and cooling, as different materials have different thermal conductivities.

Covered materials include conventional construction materials such as concrete, cement, steel, brick, wood and glass, plus novel wood-based materials such as cross-laminated timber. Insulated wood and CLT are shown to have the lowest CO2 intensities and can be extremely cost competitive.

The data-file also compares different insulation materials, including their costs, thermal conductivities (W/m.K) and the resultant energy economics of insulation projects.

Leading Companies in Plastic Pyrolysis?

Leading Companies in Plastic Pyrolysis

This data-file assesses the outlook for 30 leading companies in plastic pyrolysis, operating  (or constructing) 100 plants around the world, which use chemical processes to turn waste plastics back into oil.

Our data-file includes the number of plants, locations, start-up years, input-types and capacities for each plant. We also include our own notes, our assessment’s of each company’s technology.

The data-file has been updated in 2022, revising our rankings, and concluding that the industry is ‘on track’ for the game-changing scale-up originally foreseen in our 2019 research note (here).

Further research. Our recent commentary on the leading companies in plastic pyrolysis is linked here.

Make CO2 into valuable products?

This data-file is a screen of 27 companies, which are turning CO2 into valuable products, such as next-generation plastics, foams, concretes, specialty chemicals and agricultural products.


For each company, we have assessed the commercial potential, technical readiness, partners, size, geography and other key parameters. 13 companies have very strong commercial potential. 10 concepts are technically ready (up from 8 as assessed in mid-2019),  6 are near-commercial (up from 5 in mid-2019), while 13 are earlier-stage.

A detailed breakdown is also provided for the opportunity to use CO2 enhancing the yields of commercial greenhouses (chart below).

The featured companies include c21 start-ups. But leading listed companies include BP (as a venture partner), Chevron Phillips, Covestro, Repsol, Shell, TOTAL (as a venture partner) and Saudi Aramco.

TOTAL’s Plastic-Recycling Progress?

TOTAL is currently pioneering the greatest advances in plastic-recycling technologies among the Majors, based on our database of 3,000 patents.

This data-file covers the comprehensive mixing of chromium-catalysed polyethylene, to reduce defects and increase the strength of post-consumer resins. In turn, this extends their use to films, containers and pipes.

Four different measures of defect rates are correlated with four different extrusion methodologies.

The file also includes a summary of TOTAL’s plastic recycling patents. Overall it should be possible to uplift plastic recycling margins by $50-100/ton.

We remain most excited, however, by plastic pyrolysis, being pioneered by smaller companies, to turn plastic back into oil.

Oil Companies Drive the Energy Transition?

There is only one way to decarbonise the energy system: leading companies must find economic opportunities in better technologies. No other route can source sufficient capital to re-shape such a vast industry that spends c$2trn per annum. We outline seven game-changing opportunities. Leading energy Majors are already pursuing them in their portfolios, patents and venturing. Others must follow suit.

Thermo-Plastic Composite: The Future of Risers?

We have estimated the costs of a subsea riser system, for a typical deep-water project; and the potential cost-reduction that can be achieved by using ThermoPlastic Composite Pipe instead (e.g., Airborne, Magma). Savings should be around c45%, or c$20M/riser. Our data-file also includes the order-history to-date for TCP: by project, operator, and geography (below).

Turn the Plastic Back into Oil

monetising waste plastic

Due to the limitations of mechanical recycling, 85% of the world’s plastic is incinerated, dumped into landfill, or worst of all, ends up in the oceans. An alternative, plastic pyrolysis, is on the cusp of commercialisation. We have assessed twenty technology solutions. This nascent opportunity can turn plastic back into oil, generate >30% IRRs on investment, and could displace 15Mbpd of future oil demand.

Plastic pyrolysis delivers strong economics?

>30% IRRs should be attainable converting waste-plastic back into oil, based on disclosures from technology-leaders in the sector. This economic model allows for stress-testing of product prices, input costs, gate fees, capex, opex, utilisation and fiscal regimes.

How could plastic-recycling technology impact oil demand?

We see potential for plastic-recycling technologies to displace 15Mbpd of potential oil demand growth (i.e., naphtha, LPGs and ethane) by 2060, compared to a business-as-usual scenario of demand growth. In a more extreme case, oil demand for conventional plastics could halve. This simple model allows you to vary the input assumptions and derive your own outputs.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.