Ascend Performance Materials' congeneration plant in Decatur, Ala., has received the Responsible Care Initiative of the Year award from the American Chemistry Council.
Washington-based ACC recognized Ascend "for its transition to cleaner energy [in Decatur] and overall commitment to reducing emissions," officials said in a news release.
The Decatur site makes hexamethylene diamine (HMD), a raw material used to make nylon 6/6 resin. Nylon 6/6 is used in everyday products, including auto parts, airbags, electronics, textiles and other consumer goods. The process to make HMD requires both steam and electricity.
In December 2021, Ascend replaced Decatur's legacy coal-fired steam boilers with three new natural gas cogeneration units to help reduce the firm's overall environmental footprint. These new units will not only produce steam, but will also generate electricity onsite.
Once fully operational, the units are projected to reduce the facility's permitted emissions of pollutants by 80 percent. The units also will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. Officials said this reduction is the equivalent to removing approximately 60,000 passenger vehicles from the road every year.
"Our investment in three state-of-the-art cogeneration units helped move our Decatur facility into a new generation of energy sourcing," Ascend capital engineering vice president Amanda Castro said. She added that the project "illustrates our commitment to implementing processes and technologies that will help reduce our environmental impacts."
When operating at capacity, the new cogeneration units produce enough steam to power the entire site and offset most of the site's electricity consumption from the grid. The project also created 11 new jobs. This effort is part of a larger commitment by Ascend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2030, in support of the United Nations Global Compact's Sustainable Development Goals.
"By investing in cleaner energy sources and committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Ascend clearly demonstrates its commitment to Responsible Care's ethos of doing more, and doing better," said Tara Henriksen, ACC's managing director of responsible care.
The award winner was selected by ACC members and Responsible Care Partner company representatives, who heard presentations from two company finalists at a Responsible Care webinar and then voted to select the winning project.
Ascend ranks as a global leader in nylon 6/6 resins and compounds. The firm has annual sales of more than $3 billion. Ascend is a unit of investment firm SK Capital Partners of New York. In recent years, Ascend has made several acquisitions, most recently buying the compounding business of Indian materials firm Formulated Polymers Ltd. in March.