Chemical and Polymer Project Engineering

It's an Ideas Thing: Polymer Plant Engineers Think Bigger

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“With the combination of engineering services and technology competence, we can really take a completely different approach and set ourselves apart from other technology providers”, says the managing director, setting EPC apart from large Asian or US turnkey plant builders. The company sees itself rather as a project partner, Henkel confirms: “What makes us special is that we sell technology with engineering, but we do not over-develop the engineering to the point where we cease to be cost-effective. That is the big difference!”

A partner for projects that goes far beyond polycarbonate production — and even beyond greenfield plant construction: EPC’s PET-Vantage de-bottlenecking process helped to boost the capacity of a Sabic plant in Saudi Arabia from 400 to more than 1,000 tons per year. Operational safety, product qualities and production capacities could be significantly increased, without the need to replace the main reactors.

A Good Idea for all Polymer Engineering Issues

In another project, thanks to its expertise, EPC has been able to develop a system for the design of pipelines for highly viscous polymers. This ensures less product damage and optimizes the quality of the end product, the engineering experts say. This so called Varipipe concept was used in a Middle Eastern polymers plant for the distribution of PET melt from polymerization to filament and staple fiber production with a capacity 400 tons per day, Henkel explains.

Other EPC technologies include Patractrion, an extraction process for PA6 resulting in reduced production cost, capacity lift and increased product quality, as well as the PAN reactor system, a feedstock for EPC’s carbon fiber production technology. Together with a renowned textiles institute, a process for alternative production of the cellulose and Lyocell fibers can be offered.

Going Beyond Engineering

EPC Group offers its services as general engineering partner but the company can also supply complete plants as a general contractor and realize the overall project, integrating all on-site services. In addition to the planning and supply of the main technological equipment, EPC also performs the planning for the infrastructure, utility supplies, construction planning, auxiliary systems, control systems as well as piping, energy optimization/management and supervising the local contractors. This approach, dubbed “functional turnkey”, has proven advantageous in terms of project costs and is preferred by clients particularly for overseas projects.

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There is more to polymers than efficient production: Plastic recycling has always been important for the engineering specialist. The latest addition to the portfolio of recycling solutions is the Creasolv technology for polystyrene, which is able to handle “multiple sources” of waste streams.

Creasolv was developed in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute and the company Creacycle. It converts EPS waste into an extremely pure PS recyclate and can separate impurities as well as additives like flame retardants and will be used by the Dutch Polystyrene Loop Initiative to process up to 3,000 tons of EPS per year in a demo plant in Terneuzen.

„We are now in the process of establishing a safe and environmentally friendly closed-loop recycling scheme for brominated flame retardant loaded PS foams. The recycling process safely separates Polystyrene and removes the flame retardant. Both the valuable PS and Bromine are recovered,” explains plant manager Toine Janssen. Now, the initiative is aiming for a European wide roll out of the scheme and new plants based on the EPC process technology, Janssen confirms.