Manufacturing Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with United States Consumption of Organic Petrochemicals

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The production of commodity organic chemicals today is both primarily sourced from and powered by fossil carbon resources. Toward decarbonization of this key global economic sector, it is imperative to quantitatively understand the contributions to energy usage and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along the petrochemical manufacturing supply chain, which can inform judicious policy development and impactful technology options to improve or reimagine existing manufacturing practices. To that end, here we use the Materials Flows through Industry (MFI) tool to estimate the supply chain energy and GHG emissions for 51 organic petrochemicals and 6 intermediates that are globally produced at a capacity of at least 1 million metric tons (MMT) per year. This analysis focuses on supply chains in the United States, from which industrial data are readily sourced to obtain accurate energy and GHG emission estimates. Analysis for each chemical includes contributions from sourcing chemical feedstocks, electricity use, and fuel usage for transportation and manufacturing. This analysis predicts that process fuel, which is primarily used for heating, dominates GHG emissions in all cases except for chlorochemicals, where electricity is used extensively for the chloroalkali process and results in a large electricity GHG emission contribution ranging from 7 to 54% of total GHG emissions. Additionally, the contribution of electricity to GHG emissions ranges from 6 to 63%, representing the decarbonization potential in the transition toward renewable electricity with existing manufacturing processes. Taken together, these data serve as a critical baseline toward industrial decarbonization of the organic chemical sector, against which to compare changes to the electrical grid and industrial heat sources, improvements to existing technologies to manufacture the same chemicals, and new technologies to source alternative feedstocks to manufacture direct or functional replacement chemicals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2198-2208
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-83918


  • chemicals
  • energy efficiency
  • industrial decarbonization
  • manufacturing energy
  • supply chain modeling


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