Emerging Opportunities for Materials Derived from Crude Oil in a Decarbonized and Circular World

Oil and Gas Companies with Integrated Downstream Capabilities Re-align Their Businesses to Benefit From Emerging Opportunities in Circular Economy
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Published: 28 Sep 2018

Population growth and rising demand for energy creates an increasing pressure on industries reliant on material resources to find effective means to extend the lifetime of finite resources in the value chain and thereby reduce their use in single-use products. In 2017, the global primary energy consumption grew by 2.2% as compared to 2016 which was the highest growth since 2013. Six different resources are considered as primary energy sources which include crude oil, coal, hydroelectricity, nuclear energy, natural gas and renewables. Of these, crude oil accounts for nearly 37% while coal takes the 2nd spot with ~30% and natural gas has the 3rd largest share at 25%. While renewables are the fastest growing closely followed by natural gas, utilization of crude oil as a primary energy source is declining primarily due to volatility in benchmark prices driven by geopolitical instability and supply disruptions. Following the 2015 downturn, the oil industry has been pushed to re-look at their growth strategies and align their businesses to benefit from emerging trends such as circular economy, lightweighting, electrification and miniaturization. In this quest, crude oil producers are looking to identify new opportunities for materials derived from crude oil in the context of circularity objectives set by different industries. One of the major opportunities is to utilize hydrocarbon as a source in production of advanced carbon materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene and to recycle waste from by-products of crude oil to produce high value materials. This research service titled “Emerging Opportunities for Materials derived from Crude Oil in a Decarbonized and Circular World” details trends in the oil and gas industry which are creating a sense of uncertainty regarding the future growth in demand for crude oil and how the investment in shale plays is taking shape in different regions. From a material development perspective, we discuss the importance of circular economy and what are the goals material developers aim to achieve in enabling the transition to circular economy. In specific, we discuss about two types of carbon materials which have been through the peak of hype cycle namely carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene. Considering that these materials posses unique properties and are increasingly being adopted for product development across industries, we look at different synthesis methods, innovation ecosystem, product development focus areas and market potential forecast to 2025. We briefly discuss some processes which utilize innovative methods to re-use waste plastic and rubbers as carbon source to synthesize CNTs and graphene.

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