SABIC, in partnership with BASF and Linde, has begun construction of the world’s first demonstration plant for large-scale electrically heated steam cracker furnaces.
BASF and SABIC will split the investment costs for the pilot
This innovative technique has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions of one of the most energy-intensive manufacturing processes in the chemical sector by 90% compared to commonly used methods by substituting electricity from renewable sources for natural gas.
At BASF’s Verbund facility in Ludwigshafen, Germany, one of the current steam crackers will have the demonstration plant completely incorporated into it. It will process about four tonnes of hydrocarbon per hour and use six megawatts of renewable electricity to evaluate two different heating methods. The demonstration plant is scheduled to begin operations in 2023. In contrast to current technology, BASF, SABIC, and Linde hope to create full-scale commercial manufacturing facilities using the new technology that can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The demonstration plant will be run by BASF, and BASF and SABIC will split the investment costs for the pilot. Linde is the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction partner, and it will eventually market the developed technology.
The project has been granted €14.8 million by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
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, to help focus on challenges due to existing framework conditions and energy costs.
“Our vision is to transform our business and to help address urgent global challenges through efficient carbon management”
Yousef Al-Benyan, before recently stepping down as Vice-Chairman and CEO of SABIC, explained: “Our vision is to transform our business and to help address urgent global challenges through efficient carbon management. This project holds huge potential for all of the petrochemical industry around the world in our drive for low-carbon emitting processes. With the milestone we are jointly announcing today on the start of construction, we hope that our three-party collaboration can inspire many more collaborations that ultimately bring the world to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions through a circular carbon economy.”
“This project demonstrates how global companies can successfully collaborate by combining their expertise in technology development, EPC execution and operation. The timely delivery of the demonstration plant will be a fundamental milestone on the path to making sustainable solutions available to the petrochemical industry. We are proud to be part of this breakthrough project,” added Jürgen Nowicki, Executive Vice President Linde plc and CEO of Linde.
Using electricity as a heat source, the demonstration plant seeks to show continuous olefin production. Two heating methods can be evaluated simultaneously thanks to the way the plant is constructed. While indirect heating makes use of the radiative heat from heating elements positioned surrounding the tubes, direct heating involves applying an electric current directly to the process tubes inside the reactor. Flexibility in response to varying client and location requirements will be made possible by testing these two principles.
Steam crackers play a fundamental role in the production of basic chemicals and need a considerable amount of energy to break down hydrocarbons into olefins and aromatics. By and large, the reaction is conducted in furnaces at temperatures of approximately 850 degrees Celsius. At the moment, these temperatures are reached by burning fossil fuels. This undertaking seeks to reduce CO2 emissions by powering the process with electricity.
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