Oil and gas production sites produce unwanted volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that carry health and environmental risks of a serious nature. To avoid the VOCs entering the atmosphere, they are combusted in gas flares, as stipulated by EU regulation. However, flaring contributes to rising CO2 emissions, as large amounts of natural gas are combusted in the process.
To tackle this issue, VITO, in partnership with EUROPEM, are developing technology to adsorp VOCs from contaminated air and recover them utilising so-called vapor recovery units (VRUs). The concentrated VOCs can then be re-used as fuel or refined and converted into added-value chemicals. The ultimate goal is to make the combustion of gases in gas flares a thing of the past, in order to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and re-use the volatilised contaminants in a wide range of chemical products.