Plant Watch Top 10 Engineering Projects of January 2022

From Ahlam Rais

PROCESS Worldwide brings to you the ‘Top 10 plant engineering projects of January 2022’ from all over the world. Right from the development of Europe’s most sustainable cracker to Linde starting up the world’s first plant for extracting hydrogen from natural gas pipelines and Microsoft investing 50-million-dollars for building the world’s first alcohol-to-jet SAF plant, find out all the projects making headlines here.

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At a glance: Plant engineering projects from across the globe.
At a glance: Plant engineering projects from across the globe.
(Source: weerapong–stock.adobe.com)

China: Clariant Invests 65-Million-Dollars for Building its Flame Retardants Plant

Clariant’s flame retardants facility is expected to be completed and inaugurated in 2023.
Clariant’s flame retardants facility is expected to be completed and inaugurated in 2023.
(Source: Clariant)

Jan 06 – Clariant has recently announced that it will construct its first Chinese production facility for its successful Exolit OP flame retardants at its existing site in Daya Bay, Huizhou, Guangdong Province. Driven by the fast-growing electrical and electronic equipment industries, in particular e-mobility, 5G communications technology and transportation, there is a rapidly growing demand for Clariant’s innovative and sustainable flame retardants in China and other Asian markets.

“China has been one of the fastest growing regions for Clariant and we expect this development to continue in the future. By investing approximately 65 million dollars to establish a production facility dedicated to providing our local customers with innovative and sustainable Exolit OP flame retardants, we will take another step towards increasing our footprint in China and continue to solidify our position in the local market,” said Conrad Keijzer, CEO of Clariant.

Clariant’s facility in Daya Bay is currently home to the company’s first ethoxylation plant in Asia, which services local pharmaceutical, personal care, home care, and industrial application customers within its Business Area Care Chemicals. This investment is in line with Clariant’s dedicated growth strategy for China, in which footprint enlargement plays a vital role, alongside customer experience and innovation to support the country’s drive towards sustainability transformation. By allocating approximately 35 % of growth capital expenditure (capex) to China going forward, the sales share for the Group is expected to grow to around 14 % by 2025 versus the 10 % contribution from China in the full year 2020.

“We are very proud and excited to establish production capabilities in China. By producing closer to our Chinese customers, we can improve cooperation and design tailored solutions to their developing needs as well as significantly reduce delivery lead times. This new facility will also strengthen our overall production network beyond our existing facilities in Knapsack, Germany, and thus is beneficial to our global customer base as well,” said Francois Bleger, Global Head of Clariant’s Business Unit Additives.

Construction of the new production facility started with a groundbreaking ceremony. Local resources will be used during the building process whenever possible. The project is expected to be completed and inaugurated in 2023.

Belgium: Ineos Olefins Belgium Secures Environmental Permit for Developing Europe’s Most Sustainable Cracker

Project One will be a game changer bringing new opportunities to the chemical cluster in Antwerp, Belgium.
Project One will be a game changer bringing new opportunities to the chemical cluster in Antwerp, Belgium.
(Source: ©weerapong - stock.adobe.com)

Jan 10 – The Province of Antwerp has recently granted an environmental permit to Ineos Olefins Belgium for Project One. This is an important step towards the construction and operation of the most environmentally sustainable cracker in Europe. In developing this production site in Antwerp, Ineos will comply with some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world, whilst contributing to the renewal of the chemical cluster in Flanders and setting a new environmental standard in Europe.

John McNally, CEO Ineos Project One stated: " The urgency of tackling the climate problem is now clear to everyone. With Project One, we do not want to stand on the sidelines as an industrial player, but want to make a fundamental difference as of today. By consistently opting for the best available techniques in our design, we are setting a new environmental standard within our industry. Our ethane cracker will have the lowest carbon footprint in Europe: three times lower than the average European steam cracker and less than half of that of the 10 % best performers in Europe."

Project One will be the largest investment in the European chemical sector in a generation. It will be a game changer bringing new opportunities to the chemical cluster in Antwerp. Through technological renewal the company aims to strengthen the resilience of the European chemical sector in a global economy.

USA: Merck to Develop New Lateral Flow Membrane Production Facility for US Government

Hi-Flow Plus Lateral flow membrane is used in rapid diagnostic test kit manufacturing.
Hi-Flow Plus Lateral flow membrane is used in rapid diagnostic test kit manufacturing.
(Source: Merck KGaA)

Jan 10 – Merck’s Life Science business sector has been awarded a 137-million-dollar contract for the construction of a lateral flow membrane production facility over a three-year period at the company’s U.S. site in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The contract award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is part of an effort to ensure secure local supply and production capacity for critical products for pandemic preparedness.

“With this agreement, Merck will construct a state-of-the-art lateral flow membrane production facility that will give our global in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) manufacturing customers greater flexibility and security of supply of our Hi-Flow Plus lateral flow membranes,” said Matthias Heinzel, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Life Science.

Hi-Flow Plus Lateral flow membrane is used in rapid diagnostic test kit manufacturing by Merck’s customers, enabling reproducible results due to its consistent quality and optimized properties. The rapid test kits are used for a variety of applications, including Infectious Disease testing (Covid-19, HIV, Influenza, Malaria, etc.), as well as in women’s health, biomarker detection, drug testing, food safety and animal health. Due to continuously increasing demand for lateral flow membrane, Merck had already invested in a second membrane casting line in Cork, Ireland, which was recently completed, and expanded the range of other critical reagents (antibodies, beads, blockers, buffers) utilized to develop lateral flow rapid test kits.

Russia: South Korea’s DL E&C Wins 1.3-Billion Dollar Contract for Russia’s Largest Gas and Chemicals Complex

A map of Ust-Luga, Russia. DL E&C has won a contract to participate in a project to build a mega-scale gas chemical plant in Russia, defeating advanced European competitors.
A map of Ust-Luga, Russia. DL E&C has won a contract to participate in a project to build a mega-scale gas chemical plant in Russia, defeating advanced European competitors.
(Source: Business Wire)

Jan 11 – DL E&C has won a 1.33-billion-dollar (KRW 1.6 trillion) contract for the proposed Russian Baltic Complex Project which will be built at the port of Ust-Luga in Russia. Under the terms of the contract, DL E&C will be responsible for designing the plants, that are part of the complex and procuring equipment.

Expected to be Russia’s largest gas and chemicals complex, it will include plants that will be capable of producing 3 million tons of polyethylene, 120,000 tons of butane, and 50,000 tons of hexane annually. The overall complex will be processing 45 billion cubic meters of natural gas into LNG and chemical products every year.

Slovakia: World's First Large-Scale Production Plant for Rhamnolipids to be Developed by Evonik

The investment at the Slovenská Ľupča site in Slovakia strengthens Evonik's partnership with the consumer goods group Unilever.
The investment at the Slovenská Ľupča site in Slovakia strengthens Evonik's partnership with the consumer goods group Unilever.
(Source: Evonik Industries)

Jan 17 – Evonik is investing a three-digit million-dollar sum in the construction of a new production plant for bio-based and fully biodegradable rhamnolipids. The decision to build the plant follows a breakthrough in Evonik's research and development. Rhamnolipids are biosurfactants and serve as active ingredients in shower gels and detergents. Demand for environmentally friendly surfactants is growing rapidly worldwide.

The investment at the Slovenská Ľupča site in Slovakia strengthens Evonik's partnership with the consumer goods group Unilever, which began in 2019. At the same time the investment allows Evonik to further expand its own market position in the growth market for biosurfactants. The new plant is scheduled to come on stream in two years. "We invest more than 400 million dollars a year in our research and development," says Harald Schwager, Evonik's Chief Innovation Officer. "The journey of rhamnolipids from the initial idea to the finished product has been long, but it is worth it. This partnership with Unilever is a result of our expertise in biotechnology. "

“Rhamnolipids are an important part of our Clean Future initiative which has set the goal to replace fossil carbon in all cleaning products by 2030. We want to make sustainability easy for everyone that uses our products. The partnership with Evonik helps move our brands away from fossil fuels without compromising on performance or affordability.” says Peter Dekkers, Executive Vice President Middle Europe, Unilever. "With the construction of the world's first industrial-scale production facility, we can supply this rapidly growing market with excellent quality," says Johann-Caspar Gammelin, Head of the Nutrition & Care division.

Linde Starts Up World’s First Plant for Extracting Hydrogen from Natural Gas Pipelines

Linde Engineering puts a hydrogen production plant into operation at the production site in Dormagen.
Linde Engineering puts a hydrogen production plant into operation at the production site in Dormagen.
(Source: Linde)

Jan 20 – Linde Engineering has officially started up the world’s first full-scale pilot plant in Dormagen, Germany, to showcase how hydrogen can be separated from natural gas streams using Linde’s Hiselect powered by Evonik membrane technology. The process is a key enabler for scenarios in which hydrogen is blended with natural gas and transported via natural gas pipelines. The blended gas could consist of between 5 and 60 percent hydrogen. Membranes are then used to extract hydrogen from these natural gas streams at the point of consumption. The resulting hydrogen has a concentration level of up to 90 percent.

When further processed with Linde Engineering’s pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology, a purity of up to 99.9999 percent can be achieved. Membrane technologies are vital to efforts around the globe for establishing hydrogen infrastructure. In Europe, 11 transmission system operators are working on creating the European Hydrogen Backbone. Their aim is to build and expand a functional hydrogen network, based largely on repurposed existing natural gas infrastructure. Membrane technology like Hiselect could be integral for efficiently transporting hydrogen to end users for use as an industry feedstock, as a source of heat and power, or as a transportation fuel.

Eastman to Invest in World’s Largest Molecular

Plastics Recycling Facility

Mark Costa, CEO Eastman: “The investment in France is a significant step forward in Eastman’s strategy to accelerate a circular economy globally.”
Mark Costa, CEO Eastman: “The investment in France is a significant step forward in Eastman’s strategy to accelerate a circular economy globally.”
(Source: Eastman)

Jan 25 – French President Emmanuel Macron and Eastman Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa announced Eastman’s plan to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. This facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tonnes annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated.

The investment would recycle enough plastic waste annually to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times, while also creating virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint. Eastman is the largest investor at this year’s “Choose France” event, which is focused on attracting foreign investment to France.

This multi-phase project includes units that would prepare mixed plastic waste for processing, a methanolysis unit to depolymerize the waste, and polymer lines to create a variety of first-quality materials for specialty, packaging, and textile applications. Eastman also plans to establish an innovation center for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy. This innovation center would advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground. The plant and innovation center would be expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure.

A circular economy is key to addressing the global plastic waste crisis and the climate crisis, which have both been at the center of attention in France and throughout Europe. This long-term partnership between France and Eastman will contribute to the EU achieving its sustainability goals, by reducing carbon emissions and enabling a circular economy. France has demonstrated tremendous leadership by recognizing the vital role of molecular recycling and supporting investments in innovation.

Eastman’s proven polyester renewal technology provides true circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today. This material is typically incinerated because it either cannot be mechanically recycled or must be downcycled with existing technology. This hard-to-recycle waste is broken down into its molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become first-quality material without any compromise in performance. Eastman’s polyester renewal technology enables the potentially infinite value of materials by keeping them in production, lifecycle after lifecycle. With the technology’s inherent efficiencies and the renewable energy sources available in France, materials can be produced with greenhouse gas emissions up to 80% less than traditional methods.

USA: Microsoft Invests 50-Million-Dollars for Developing World’s First Alcohol-to-Jet SAF Plant

The development of LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels plant is also supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office.
The development of LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels plant is also supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office.
(Source: LanzaJet)

Jan 27 – LanzaJet has recently announced that it has secured financing for its Freedom Pines Fuels plant in Soperton, Georgia, USA through the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. The Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund has made a 50-million-dollar investment to support the construction of LanzaJet’s (and the world’s) first alcohol-to-jet sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant. The innovative structure of Microsoft’s financing will enable LanzaJet to bring lower-cost sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel to the global market.

LanzaJet produces SAF and renewable diesel from low-carbon, sustainable ethanol sources. This investment also creates the opportunity for LanzaJet and the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund to work together in enabling LanzaJet, through the Freedom Pines Fuels plant, to catalyze the market for 2nd generation, waste-based ethanol feedstock, demonstrating clear demand signals for ethanol that can achieve greater carbon reductions.

The construction of Freedom Pines Fuels is progressing as planned, even with supply chain, manufacturing, and labor shortages impacting the global economy. Fabrication of the plant is well underway; some modules are already completed and final site engineering is nearing completion. The LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels plant is expected to achieve mechanical completion this year and begin producing 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year from sustainable ethanol, including from waste-based feedstocks, in 2023.

The investment was made as part of Microsoft’s efforts to achieve its 2030 goal of becoming carbon negative and advancing a net-zero economy. It also allows Microsoft to access sustainable, renewable diesel for its data centers to enable Microsoft to further achieve its net-zero goals.

UK: Wood to Deliver UK’s First Commercial Lithium Refinery

The partnership aims to fill the missing link in the electric vehicle supply chain, using a sustainable and low-carbon refining process, to connect Europe’s lithium battery and cell manufacturers with a secure supply of lithium hydroxide, produced from abundant international sources of raw lithium mineral ore.
The partnership aims to fill the missing link in the electric vehicle supply chain, using a sustainable and low-carbon refining process, to connect Europe’s lithium battery and cell manufacturers with a secure supply of lithium hydroxide, produced from abundant international sources of raw lithium mineral ore.
(Source: Wood)

Jan 27 – Wood has signed an agreement with Green Lithium, the mineral processing company, to be its Owner’s Engineer to build and operate the UK’s first large-scale commercial lithium refinery. The partnership aims to fill the missing link in the electric vehicle supply chain, using a sustainable and low-carbon refining process, to connect Europe’s lithium battery and cell manufacturers with a secure supply of lithium hydroxide, produced from abundant international sources of raw lithium mineral ore.

The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe and will help to meet the growing demand for battery-grade lithium chemicals vital for the commercial viability of the European battery supply chain, the electric vehicle revolution and transition to net-zero. Wood will draw on its experience of delivering lithium refineries in other territories, including Australia, and will ensure the engineering solutions meet the needs of a merchant refinery and help Green Lithium achieve its carbon net-zero ambitions.

Andy Hemingway, President of Energy, Innovation & Optimisation at Wood, said: “This landmark project will revolutionize the European supply chain for EV production and sustainable energy storage at this critical time in the energy transition. We’re looking forward to working with Green Lithium to support its development, as we continue to bring Wood’s global expertise to the fore in transforming the energy and transportation sectors for a low-carbon future.”

Russia: Maire Tecnimont Enters into 1.2-Billion-Dollar Contract with Rosneft

This contract follows the agreement signed by Maire Tecnimont and Rosneft and announced on October 28, 2021.
This contract follows the agreement signed by Maire Tecnimont and Rosneft and announced on October 28, 2021.
(Source: Deposit Photos)

Jan 28 – Maire Tecnimont has recently announced that its subsidiaries Tecnimont and MT Russia have signed an EPC contract with Rosneft for the implementation of the VGO Hydrocracking Complex at the Ryazan Refining Company’s (RORC) production site, 200 km South-East of Moscow. This contract follows the agreement signed by Maire Tecnimont and Rosneft and announced on October 28, 2021.

The overall contract value is approximately 1.2 billion dollars. The project is subject to financial closing as well as to the fulfilment of certain conditions, typical for this kind of transactions. Project total duration, expected to be typical for this kind of initiatives, will be defined and disclosed once such financial closing and the fulfilment of certain conditions are met.

VGO stands for Vacuum Gas Oil, which is produced by vacuum distillation unit in a refinery plant. Rosneft’s subsidiary RORC is one of the largest Russian refineries by volume of refining and production output. The project’s scope of work entails a full range of works related to the design, supply of equipment and materials, construction, start-up and commissioning, and project finance services. Once completed, the VGO Hydrocracking Complex will have a capacity of 40,000 barrels per day serving the need of the local market according to the higher standard Class 5 regulation. The project will benefit from highly efficient technology and equipment with an automated control system to reduce the carbon footprint of the plant.

A significant portion of the scope of work will be performed by MT Russia in its Moscow engineering centre, where Maire Tecnimont Group employs about 200 specialists currently involved in several ongoing Russian projects.

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