MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF, SABIC and Linde have started construction of the world’s first demonstration plant for large-scale electrically heated steam cracker furnaces, said the companies.
By using electricity from renewable sources instead of natural gas, the new technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions of one of the most energy-intensive production processes in the chemical industry by at least 90% compared to technologies commonly used today.
The demonstration plant will be fully integrated into one of the existing steam crackers at BASF’s Verbund site in Ludwigshafen, Germany. It will test two different heating concepts, processing around 4 tons of hydrocarbon per hour and consuming 6 megawatts of renewable energy. The start-up of the demonstration plant is targeted for 2023.
BASF and SABIC are investing together into the project and the demonstration plant will be operated by BASF. Linde is the engineering, procurement and construction partner for the project and in the future will commercialize the developed technologies.
To support the development of the novel furnace technology, the project has been granted €14.8 million by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action under its “Decarbonization in Industry” funding program. The program is supporting energy-intensive industries in Germany in their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.
The demonstration plant aims to show that continuous olefin production is possible using electricity as a heat source. The plant is designed in a way that two heating concepts can be tested in parallel: Direct heating applies an electric current directly to the process tubes inside the reactor; indirect heating uses radiative heat of heating elements placed around the tubes. Testing these two concepts will make it possible to react flexibly to different customer and site requirements.
Steam crackers play a central role in the production of basic chemicals and require a significant amount of energy to break down hydrocarbons into olefins and aromatics. Typically, the reaction is conducted in furnaces at temperatures of about 850 degrees Celsius. Today these temperatures are reached by burning fossil fuels. The project aims to reduce the CO2 emissions by powering the process with electricity.
In March 24, 2021 BASF, SABIC and Linde have signed a joint agreement to develop and demonstrate solutions for electrically heated steam cracker furnaces. The partners have already jointly worked on concepts to use renewable electricity instead of the fossil fuel gas typically used for the heating process.
SABIC is a global diversified chemicals company, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It manufactures on a global scale in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific, making distinctly different kinds of products: chemicals, commodity and high-performance plastics, agri-nutrients and metals.
Linde is a leading global industrial gases and engineering company with 2021 sales of $31 billion (€26 billion). We live our mission of making our world more productive every day by providing high-quality solutions, technologies and services which are making our customers more successful and helping to sustain and protect our planet. The company serves a variety of end markets including chemicals & energy, food & beverage, electronics, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and mining.
BASF operates through six core business segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technology, Nutrition & Care, and Agricultural Solutions. In Russia, the company has at least six subsidiaries: BASF LLC (fertilizer trade), BASF Industrial Metals LLC (metals trade in primary forms), BASF Yug LLC (seed trade), Hemetal LLC ( trade in industrial chemicals), LLC "MBS Building Systems" (trade in building materials and products) and LLC "BASF Vostok" (production of paints and varnishes).