Energy use and energy intensity of the U.S. chemical industry Page: 3 of 40
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Energy Use and Energy Intensity of the U.S. Chemical Industry
Ernst Worrell, Dian Phylipsen, Dan Einstein, Nathan Martin
Energy Analysis Department
Environmental Energy Technologies Division
Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The U.S. chemical industry is the largest in the world, and responsible for about 11% of the U.S.
industrial production measured as value added. It consumes approximately 20% of total industrial
energy consumption in the U.S. (1994), and contributes in similar proportions to U.S. greenhouse
gas emissions. Surprisingly, there is not much information on energy use and energy intensity in
the chemical industry available in the public domain. This report provides detailed information on
energy use and energy intensity for the major groups of energy-intensive chemical products.
Ethylene production is the major product in terms of production volume of the petrochemical
industry. The petrochemical industry (SIC 2869) produces a wide variety of products. However,
most energy is used for a small number of intermediate compounds, of which ethylene is the most
important one. Based on a detailed assessment we estimate fuel use for ethylene manufacture at
520 PJ (LHV), excluding feedstock use. Energy intensity is estimated at 26 GJ/tonne ethylene
(LHV), excluding feedstocks.
The nitrogenous fertilizer production is a very energy intensive industry, producing a variety of
fertilizers and other nitrogen-compounds. Ammonia is the most important intermediate chemical
compound, used as basis for almost all products. Fuel use is estimated at 268 PJ (excluding
feedstocks) while 368 PJ natural gas is used as feedstock. Electricity consumption is estimated at
14 PJ. We estimate the energy intensity of ammonia manufacture at 39.3 GJ/tonne (including
feedstocks, HHV) and 140 kWh/tonne, resulting in a specific primary energy consumption of
40.9 GJ/tonne (HHV), equivalent to 37.1 GJ/tonne (LHV). Excluding natural gas use for
feedstocks the primary energy consumption is estimated at 16.7 GJ/tonne (LHV).
The third most important product from an energy perspective is the production of chlorine and
caustic soda. Chlorine is produced through electrolysis of a salt-solution. Chlorine production is
the main electricity consuming process in the chemical industry, next to oxygen and nitrogen
production. We estimate final electricity use at 173 PJ (48 TWh) and fuel use of 38 PJ. Total
primary energy consumption is estimated at 526 PJ (including credits for hydrogen export). The
energy intensity is estimated at an electricity consumption of 4380 kWh/tonne chlorine and fuel
consumption of 3.45 GJ/tonne chlorine, where all energy use is allocated to chlorine production.
Assuming an average power generation efficiency of 33% the primary energy consumption is
estimated at 47.8 GJ/tonne chlorine (allocating all energy use to chlorine).
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Worrell, E.; Phylipsen, D.; Einstein, D. & Martin, N. Energy use and energy intensity of the U.S. chemical industry, report, April 1, 2000; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc715392/m1/3/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.