Emission Trends in Non-fluorinated Chemicals Production

The non-fluorinated chemicals sector of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) includes facilities that manufacture adipic acid, ammonia, hydrogen, nitric acid, petrochemicals, phosphoric acid, silicon carbide, titanium dioxide, and other chemicals (i.e., facilities with various NAICS codes related to chemical production). Overall, the greenhouse gas emissions reported by the non-fluorinated chemicals sector have increased from 163.1 million metric tons (MMT) CO2e in 2011 to 179.9 MMT CO2e (10 percent) in 2021. After a slight decrease (2.7 percent) from 2011 to 2012, emissions steadily increased by 1 to 6 percent per year through 2018, before decreasing by 6.3 MMT CO2e (3.4 percent) for 2019, and then increasing by 0.63 MMT CO2e (0.35 percent) for 2020 and 1.9 MMT CO2e (1.1 percent) for 2021. Over 75 percent of the emissions from this sector are emitted from the combined production of petrochemicals (63 MMT CO2e in 2021), hydrogen (41 MMT CO2e in 2021) and ammonia (34 MMT CO2e in 2021). Petrochemical production was the largest contributor to the emissions increase from the non-fluorinated chemicals sector between 2020 and 2021.

Ammonia Production. Reported emissions from ammonia production increased from 24.9 MMCO2e in 2011 to 34.4 MMCO2e in 2021 (9.6 MMT CO2e or 39 percent). This is mostly due to an increase in the number of ammonia production facilities, from 22 in 2011 to 29 in 2021. New ammonia production facilities were opened in 2013 (1), 2016 (3), and 2017 (3). The number of ammonia production facilities reporting to the GHGRP has not changed since 2017. Emissions between 2017 and 2021 have varied from a low of 33.1 MMT CO2e in 2017 to a high of 36.3 MMT CO2e in 2020. Emissions in 2021 were 1.8 MMT CO2e (5 percent) lower than reported in 2020.

Hydrogen Production. Reported emissions from the hydrogen production subsector increased by 10 percent (3.8 MMT CO2e) from 37.5 MMT CO2e in 2011 to 41.4 MMT CO2e in 2021. The overall increase in emissions is at least partly driven by increased demand for hydrogen by petroleum refineries due to an expansion of the scope of engines required to use low sulfur and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Lowering the sulfur content of diesel fuel is achieved by increasing hydro-treating capacity of fluid catalytic crackers and requires additional inputs of hydrogen at refineries. Emissions from hydrogen production decreased by 6.5 percent (2.9 MMT CO2e) from 2019 to 2020, primarily due to a drop in diesel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emissions increased slightly in 2021 by 0.1 MMT CO2e (0.3 percent) but remained 2.8 MMT CO2e below pre-pandemic levels. 

Petrochemical Production. Reported emissions from the petrochemical production subsector increased by 10.7 MMT CO2e (20 percent) from 2011 to 2021 as the number of petrochemical plants increased from 64 plants in 2011 to 75 plants in 2021. Emissions increased by 4.2 MMT CO2e from 2020 to 2021, the majority (3.8 MMT CO2e) of which was due to new petrochemical production facilities and increased production in 2021 at a facility that started up in 2020.

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