Occidental unit to build low-carbon bio-ethylene plant

April 6 (Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum’s low-carbon unit said on Tuesday it plans to construct and operate a pilot plant that would use human-made carbon dioxide, instead of hydrocarbon-sourced feedstocks, to produce bio-ethylene.

The pilot plant will be jointly developed by Occidental’s venture capital arm, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures LLC, and bio-engineering startup, Cemvita Factory. It is expected to start functioning in 2022.

Bio-ethylene is currently made from bio-ethanol, which is made from sugarcane.

The new technology produces bio-ethylene from carbon dioxide, water and light, which helps lower costs and carbon emissions, Cemvita’s Chief Executive Officer Moji Karimi said.

Ethylene, widely used in the chemical industry, is a component of products ranging from plastic films to PVC piping and coolants.

Interest in low-carbon initiatives has grown in recent years, ranging from companies seeking to offset their climate impact to public officials worried about the slow pace of international agreements to cut emissions.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures in 2019 had invested in Cemvita to look at bio-manufacturing for Occidental’s chemical unit.

Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel