Plant Watch Top 10 Engineering Projects of February 2022
PROCESS Worldwide brings to you the ‘Top 10 plant engineering projects of February 2022’ from all over the world. Right from China’s first megaton CCUS project to developing Europe’s first lithium refinery, find out all the projects making headlines here.
China Unveils its First Megaton CCUS Project
Feb 02 – China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) has completed the construction of China’s first megaton carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) project, the Qilu-Shengli Oilfield CCUS on January 29, which will reduce carbon emissions by 1 million tons per year, the equivalent of planting nearly 9 million trees and shutting down 600,000 economy cars.
As China’s largest full industrial chain CCUS demonstration base and industry benchmark, the project is estimated to increase the oil production by 2.965 million tons in the next 15 years. It’s of great significance to China’s scaled development of CCUS and building an ‘artificial carbon cycle’ model to increase China’s carbon emissions reduction capabilities as the country advances to achieve the ‘dual carbon’ goals of reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
The construction of the project was initiated in July, 2021 and is consisted of two parts – Sinopec Qilu’s carbon dioxide capture and Shengli Oilfield’s carbon dioxide displacement and storage. The carbon dioxide captured by Sinopec Qilu will be transported to Shengli Oilfield for further displacement and storage via green transport mode, achieving an integrated application of carbon capture, displacement and storage to seal the carbon dioxide underground and drive the oil out – turning the waste into treasure.
Sinopec Qilu has newly constructed a liquid carbon dioxide recovery and utilization unit with a capacity of 1 million tons per year, which includes compression unit, refrigeration unit, liquefaction refining unit and supporting facilities to recover carbon dioxide from the tail gas of coal-to-hydrogen plant with a purification rate of over 99 percent.
Meanwhile, Shengli Oilfield is applying the principle of supercritical carbon dioxide’s easy miscibility with crude oil to build 10 unattended gas injection stations in Zhenglizhuang Oilfield to inject carbon dioxide into the 73 wells nearby to increase crude oil fluidity and improve oil recovery while adopting a closed pipeline transportation of oil and gas to further enhance carbon dioxide sequestration rate.
Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz to Build Mega Chlor-Alkali Electrolysis Plant in France
Feb 03 – Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz (CAC) is constructing a chlor-alkali electrolysis plant for Europe's second largest PVC manufacturer Kem One. With an order volume of 64 million dollars, it is the largest order of this type in the history of the Chemnitz-based company.
Kem One, headquartered in Lyon, France, commissioned CAC at the end of 2021 to build a modern, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly membrane electrolysis plant to replace the existing diaphragm electrolysis plant. CAC will implement the plant at the French site in Fos-Sur-Mer as an EPCm project together with its long-standing Japanese technology partner Asahi Kasei Corporation. Specifically, it means that CAC is responsible for the basic and detail engineering, procurement and delivery, site management and commissioning support.
The plant on the coast of southern France is to be gradually converted to sea salt in order to be able to react more flexibly to possible supply bottlenecks in the future with this independent supply of raw materials. By electrolyzing the salt, the Fos-sur-Mer plant produces chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen. The chlorine produced is used on-site to manufacture vinyl chloride monomer, the basic substance for PVC. This material is flame retardant, insulating and resistant to chemical attack, wear and tear. It is therefore suitable for a wide range of applications in construction, packaging and medical technology.
Europe’s First Lithium Refinery to be Developed in Germany
Feb 03 – Mannheim/Germany – Bilfinger and clean-tech company Rock Tech Lithium have signed a letter of intent for an EPCM (Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management) partnership. The agreement relates to the construction of Europe’s first lithium hydroxide converter. The production plant for battery-grade lithium hydroxide will be built in Guben, Brandenburg, Germany. Once completed, it will produce 24,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide annually for the batteries of 500,000 electric cars. Rock Tech’s project is currently at an advanced planning stage. Bilfinger is providing engineering services and, in the event of realization, will primarily be responsible for further procurement services as well as construction management.
Christina Johansson, interim CEO and CFO of Bilfinger: “The production of lithium hydroxide as a component of electric car batteries is essential for a transition to environmentally friendly transport. The concept developed by Rock Tech Lithium for the construction of the lithium refining plant is innovative and technologically convincing.”
Rock Tech Lithium announced the construction of Europe's first lithium refinery on October 11, 2021 and acquired the necessary site from the city of Guben. Part of the lithium required for production will come from the company’s Hardrock deposit in Georgia Lake, Canada.
Rock Tech Lithium’s goal is to produce lithium hydroxide with the lowest possible environmental impact throughout the value chain. Together with the German Lithium Institute ITEL, the company has developed a zero-waste strategy, which envisages also recycling the by-products of lithium hydroxide production - for example in the gypsum industry. The aim is to also recycle the lithium itself at a later stage.
Air Liquide to Build its Largest Biomethane Production Unit in the USA
Feb 07 – Air Liquide continues its development of biomethane activities with the construction in the USA of its largest biomethane production unit in the world. This will bring the worldwide biomethane production capacity of the Group to 1.8 TWh. The new production unit in the State of Illinois will allow Air Liquide to keep providing low-carbon solutions to its customers in the industrial and transportation sectors and to accompany them in the reduction of their emissions.
Located in Rockford, Illinois, the new production unit will produce biomethane from biogas from a solid waste treatment plant, owned and operated by Waste Connections. It will have a production capacity of 380 GWh per year, which represents the largest production capacity per plant for the Group. It will be operational by the end of 2023. Another biomethane production unit from another landfill is also being built in Delavan, Wisconsin, and will be operational at the beginning of Q2 2022. Thanks to these two new units, Air Liquide is becoming a significant biomethane production player in the U.S. to accompany its customers from the industrial and transportation sectors in the USA and in Canada.
For these two projects, Air Liquide will use, in addition to its own membrane technology, a complementary technology developed by Waga Energy, a company specialized in the valorization of biogas from landfill sites, founded in 2015 and supported by ALIAD, the Group’s capital venture fund.
Globally, Air Liquide now has 21 biomethane operational production units in the world for a yearly production capacity of about 1.4 TWh. After the commissioning of the two new Rockford and Delavan plants, the Group’s biomethane production capacity will reach 1.8 TWh per year.
Émilie Mouren-Renouard, Member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee, in charge of Innovation, Digital and IT, Intellectual Property and Global Markets & Technologies World Business Unit, said: “Biomethane, like hydrogen and CO2 capture technologies, has a prominent place in the portfolio of solutions developed by Air Liquide to fight global warming and preserve the environment. The announcement of the construction of our largest biomethane production unit in the world illustrates Air Liquide’s determination to accompany its customers in the industrial and transportation sectors throughout the energy transition, but also to actively contribute to the emergence of a low-carbon society.”
Trinseo to Begin Construction of World-Class Chemical Recycling Plant in Belgium
Feb 08 – Trinseo announced that its plans for a world-class chemical recycling plant in Europe is progressing rapidly. In late 2021, Trinseo contracted with global technology provider Synova and global engineering services company Worley, and is currently working on an engineering package and preparing Trinseo’ s Tessenderlo, Belgium site for recycling operations.
Trinseo is targeting to begin construction by the end of 2022. The plant will be dedicated to recycled polystyrene (rPS), meeting increased demand for the material as brand owners seek sustainable options. It will process 15 kilotons of rPS flakes annually that will be converted into high quality recycled styrene to enable further production of polystyrene (PS) and/or a styrene derivative including Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN).
PS is one of the most widely used plastics and can be fully circular. Due to its simple chemistry, it can be converted to its monomer yielding a material with identical properties as its fossil equivalent.
“Trinseo chose Synova and Worley to move forward with it because of their leadership in their respective areas, the efficiency and maturity of their technologies and approaches, and high-quality output,” said Francesca Reverberi, SVP and Chief Sustainability Officer. “Both, also, have a very strong commitment to sustainability and this alignment was critical for us as we continue our journey and goal of delivering sustainable material solutions, while maintaining high quality and performance.”
Synova is a provider of leading technology for the recycling of mixed plastic waste. The technology has been invented by TNO, an independent Dutch research organization, and features a highly efficient process to covert waste into high value products, while improving the CO2 footprint.
The construction of the Tessenderlo recycling facility is part of Trinseo’ s commitment to circularity in plastics. As a major producer of PS, the company’s focus on polystyrene’s sustainability has allowed Trinseo to support its customers’ sustainability objectives, develop technologies that can be applied broadly, and impact the future of the plastics industry.
BASF Starts Up New Plant for 2-Mercaptoethanol Production in Germany
Feb 16 – A new BASF production plant for the intermediate 2-mercaptoethanol (2-ME) at the Ludwigshafen Verbund site in Germany started regular operations in the fourth quarter of 2021. After a trial run of several months, it replaces the previous plant at the Ludwigshafen site, which is being closed after more than 40 years of operation. The new plant is fully integrated into BASF's production Verbund and, with more than 10,000 metric tons of 2-ME per year, has the same production capacity as the previous plant. 2-ME has proven its value in the production of plastics, crop protection products, oilfield chemicals and coatings.
"The new plant will enable us to supply our customers all over the world with 2-mercaptoethanol even more reliably. Our global logistics network, which our customers can further rely on, also contributes to this," says Frank Stein, head of the Regional Business Unit Europe in BASF's Intermediates division.
Origin Materials to Build its First World-Scale Manufacturing Facility in Louisiana, USA
Feb 18 – Origin Materials and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards have recently announced that, subject to finalization of economic incentives, the company has selected a site in Geismar, Louisiana, USA for the construction of its first world-scale manufacturing facility, Origin 2.
The facility would produce carbon-negative materials used to make polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, which is used in packaging, textiles, apparel, and other applications, as well as hydrothermal carbon, which can be used in fuel pellets, as activated carbon, and as a replacement for carbon black. Origin’s patented technology platform can turn the carbon found in sustainable wood residues into useful materials while capturing carbon in the process.
The 150-acre facility would create an estimated 500 construction jobs, 200 local full-time positions, and between 500 and 1,000 indirect local jobs. The plant would convert an estimated 1 million dry metric tons of wood residues each year into products for a wide range of end markets. The plant is expected to be operational mid-2025.
The pending state and local incentives are estimated to be worth more than 100 million dollars. In addition, a Private Activity Bond volume cap allocation from the State of Louisiana, pending finalization, is expected in the amount of at least 400 million dollars. Private Activity Bonds are tax-exempt bonds authorized by state and local governments for the financing of qualified projects with private capital.
“Origin is excited to announce this investment in sustainable manufacturing with the Governor of Louisiana,” said John Bissell, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Origin.
“The local talent is world-class across refining, forestry and agronomy, feedstock logistics, and chemicals. The site sits along the Mississippi River with easy access to barge and rail and plentiful local wood residue feedstock. The proposed incentive package for building in the area is compelling and the local industrial cluster can provide access to hydrogen, ethylene, water treatment and more.”
“I welcome Origin Materials’ plans for a new facility in Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Their unique process of developing PET products from renewable wood fibers is yet another example of how the global shift toward sustainability can be a catalyst for economic investment and job creation in our state. The company’s carbon-negative mission aligns with our Climate Action Plan’s approach to limiting the severity of climate change while maintaining economic competitiveness in a low-carbon future.”
“The demand for ‘net zero’-enabling materials is extremely strong, and we believe this plant will be instrumental in addressing demand for our products in the United States and internationally,” said Bissell.
“This project points to a future of transformational changes in the manufacturing of chemicals and plastics,” Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp said. “Origin Materials’ decision to locate its largest plant-based plastics operation here speaks to our region’s continued advantages for workforce and supply chain, even as technologies change for the future."
Plug Power Partners with Atlas Copco, Fives to Establish Hydrogen Liquefaction Plants
Feb 23 – Plug Power has signed a collaboration agreement with Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench Company and Fives, a global leader in brazed heat exchangers and cryogenic cold boxes, to jointly develop hydrogen liquefaction plants (also known as hydrogen liquefiers). Liquifying hydrogen makes it easier to transport, leading to significant cost savings and broader distribution coverage.
The collaboration announcement closely follows Plug Power’s acquisition last month of Joule Processing, a process solution and engineered equipment provider with a strong track record of execution among the largest EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) and oil and gas midstream companies. The proven cryogenic process technology that Joule developed for the gas processing industry is directly applicable to hydrogen liquefaction and has the potential to reduce the cost of liquified hydrogen by 25 %.
Joule’s liquefaction process is being deployed in Plug Power’s green hydrogen plant under development in Texas, USA. “Plug Power manufactures the best electrolyzer solution in the world today,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “And, we have the complete delivery network in place. The liquefier system is key to offering hydrogen in liquid form, which is ideal because of its superior energy density versus gaseous hydrogen, lower transportation cost and potential for powering trains, ships and airplanes. Joule’s capabilities complete this end-to-end green hydrogen solution for Plug Power, making us the only company in the world with such comprehensive offerings.”
Ben Victor, former CEO of Joule Processing and current Vice President of Hydrogen Energy Solutions for Plug Power said, “We are now positioned with a large platform to deploy our low energy hydrogen liquefaction solution on a global scale, for both our internal projects and sales to third parties.”
Through this long-term cooperation, Plug Power, Atlas Copco Gas and Process and Fives will address some of the biggest needs facing the liquid hydrogen production industry, such as improving the efficiency, cost and lead time of hydrogen liquefiers.
The parties have already undertaken significant development efforts and Plug Power expects to commission hydrogen liquefier trains with 15 ton per day and 30 ton per day capacities starting in 2023. Plug Power’s growing national network of hydrogen plants will supply 500 tons per day of liquid green hydrogen by 2025 and 1,000 tons per day globally by 2028 - presenting a significant opportunity for the partners to drive scale and standardization in hydrogen liquefiers.
“Atlas Copco Gas and Process and Fives bring core expertise that complements Plug Power’s capabilities and vision to be a total end-to-end solution for the green hydrogen economy,” said Sanjay Shrestha, Chief Strategy Officer of Plug Power. “Liquefaction capabilities were the last major element we needed to complete our turnkey product suite for delivering green hydrogen plants globally.”
Under the agreement, Plug Power will design, manufacture, install, operate and maintain hydrogen liquefiers for its own use and for third parties. Atlas Copco Gas and Process will design and manufacture custom turboexpanders and compressors related to the hydrogen liquefaction plants. Fives will manufacture the brazed aluminum heat exchangers and optimize their integration in cold boxes.
Messer to Build USA’s First Solar-Powered ASU
Feb 23 – Messer is investing more than 50 million dollars in the construction of a large air separation plant in McGregor, Texas, USA. The production plant for air gases is mainly operated with energy from a solar park on site. This makes it the first air separation plant from Messer whose energy requirements are covered by a renewable energy source close to the site in order to reduce CO2 emissions.
"Our expansion in Texas and the use of solar energy underscore Messer's focus on environmental protection and sustainability," says Jens Luehring, CEO of Messer Americas. "This investment is an integral part of our journey towards a future based on renewable energies initiatives for green energy, with which we can continue to ensure a reliable supply to our customers.”
The new facility will produce gases that will fuel growth in central Texas and support the region's burgeoning industries, including aerospace, chemical, electronics, food and beverage, healthcare, metals and oil and gas industry. Completion is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024.
Evonik to Invest 176-Million-Dollars for Building New Methyl Mercaptan Plant in USA
Feb 25 – Evonik will build a methyl mercaptan plant at its site in Mobile, Alabama in the U.S. Methyl mercaptan is an intermediate in the production of Metamino (DL-methionine) and is currently sourced from third parties. This backward integration step strengthens Evonik's site in Mobile as a global, best-in-class methionine hub for reliable and cost-optimized supply to North and South American markets. The plant is scheduled to come on stream in the second half of 2024. The investment budget of the project is approximately 176 million dollars over three years.
"The new methyl mercaptan plant in Mobile is another important step in the consistent implementation of our global methionine asset strategy," says Johann-Caspar Gammelin, head of Evonik's Nutrition & Care division. "We are securing our cash flow from the methionine business to finance our growth with system solutions in Nutrition & Care."
The core of the methionine asset strategy are the three world-class production hubs: Mobile, Antwerp (Belgium) and Singapore. Together these hubs serve the expanding global market for DL-methionine. As part of the asset strategy, the smallest methionine plant at the German site in Wesseling was discontinued in 2021. At the same time the European Metamino Verbund was strengthened by investment in intermediates at this site.
The global methionine production hubs in Antwerp and Singapore are already fully backward integrated. This contributes – just like the present investment in Mobile – to improved supply security and a market-leading cost position. It also facilitates future and highly efficient debottlenecking over the next years.
"In the market we stand for quality, superior supply reliability, and a high level of safety and technology standards in our assets. The backward integration in Mobile eliminates transportation of hazardous chemicals and shows our continued commitment to responsible care and business sustainability. This ultimately positions us even better as a reliable partner for our customers in the Americas," says Dr. Emmanuel Auer, head of the Animal Nutrition business line at Evonik.
The investment is also a building block of the division's sustainability strategy: it will reduce the carbon footprint of DL-methionine from Mobile by about seven percent. More than 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents can be saved each year.