Learning from the past: the sustainable future of syngas


Technological developments have made Chemelot the site it is today. They also offer starting points for creating a sustainability roadmap towards the benchmark years of 2030 and 2050. Synthesis gas, or syngas, is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that has played an important role in the development of Chemelot in the past and may also help make the site more sustainable in the future. In this article, historians Ton van Helvoort (Acta Biomedica) and Ernst Homburg (Maastricht University) talk to Brightsite’s Paul Brandts and Reinier Grimbergen about the history of syngas, its future and the challenges posed the energy and raw materials transitions.

Given its size, the chemical industry can make a substantial contribution to achieving the climate targets. At Chemelot, naphtha and natural gas are currently used for the synthesis of plastic products and fertilisers. In 2019, these processes generated 5.8 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is about 30% of Limburg’s emissions and 3% of all emissions in the Netherlands. By choosing ‘green’ raw materials and switching our energy supply to renewable electricity, we can make the plants at Chemelot more sustainable.

Paul Brandts, Intelligence Officer Brightsite:

“In the future, if we have enough CO₂-free energy and grid capacity at our disposal, syngas from water and CO₂ is the ultimate way to make all kinds of products.”

Does your company recognize itself in the working method of Brightsite?

We have to pull out all the stops to make the transition of energy and raw materials in a timely manner. Syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, can play an important role in making the site more sustainable, not only in Chemelot’s past but also in the future.

Would you like to know more about the new route that syngas offers to a future-proof circular chemical industry, or would you like to participate in this development? Then get in touch with us.