Plastics are an indispensable part of our daily lives. Yet without petrochemicals, the plastics industry wouldn’t exist. Complex petrochemical processes create the building blocks for a host of different applications and products. These starting materials include ethylene, propylene and butadiene, as well as aromatics. Obtained by steam cracking fossil fuel fractions, for instance, they are then further upgraded in downstream processes to create important base chemicals and plastics. The versatility of these building blocks is matched only by the complexity of the production facilities that create them. As one of the world’s leading technology contractors, Linde has the expertise to deliver these kinds of plants anywhere on the planet.
Expertise to deliver anywhere on the planet
The largest ethane cracker complex in the world, for example, is located in the middle of the desert in Abu Dhabi. From 2005 to 2014, Linde built three turnkey ethylene production facilities for a client at the Ruwais petrochemical hub, delivering a total capacity of 4.5 million tonnes per annum (tpa). Ruwais is a town on the Gulf coast, around 250 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi city. It is close to a large refinery and several petrochemical plants. In this part of the world, however, temperatures are extremely high all year round. Solar radiation and surface heat therefore had to be carefully factored into plant design, especially to protect the health and safety of workers. Linde rose to every challenge, delivering all three ethane crackers on schedule and without any hitches.
Realising the world's largest ethane-based polymer complex
As a leading provider of ethylene technology, Linde was thus able to play a key role in helping its customer realise what is currently the world’s largest ethane-based polymer complex in Ruwais with a capacity of 3.9 million tpa. Delivering facilities that are a perfect match for individual needs is one of our core competencies, especially in the large-scale petrochemical engineering sector.
Balancing material cost with energy consumption
The geography and climate in parts of Russia can be equally challenging, especially in regions with permafrost. In the Western Siberian town of Tobolsk, for example, Linde is currently building one of the world’s largest ethylene plants for a Russian petrochemical group. In contrast to Abu Dhabi, where plant components had to be insulated against the desert heat, the Tobolsk plant features a specially developed and highly sophisticated winterisation concept, balancing material cost with energy consumption for optimised management. The plant engineers also have to work with special types of steel that are extremely resistant to cold. Once complete, the facility in Tobolsk will produce around 1.5 million tpa of ethylene, 500,000 tpa of propylene and 100,000 tpa of butadiene – all of which are important feedstocks for the plastics industry. Linde is responsible for engineering, procurement and transport in this large-scale project. The company is also providing a number of consulting services for the customer on-site.
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Operational support and safety
Linde’s portfolio extends far beyond the engineering and design of petrochemical facilities, however. The company also offers procurement, construction and start-up services for these plants. In addition, customers rely on Linde for operational support in areas such as plant safety and energy optimisation. Linde is even offering full revamps of existing facilities. Whatever the challenge, whatever the location, Linde’s engineers will find the right solution.