Plant Watch Top 10 Engineering Projects of November 2022
PROCESS Worldwide brings to you the ‘Top 10 plant engineering projects of November 2022’ from all over the world. Right from developing North America’s biggest PVDF facility for battery materials to establishing the world’s largest integrated polymers facility, find out all the projects making headlines here.
Standard Lithium Commissions First Direct Hydroxide Conversion Pilot Plant
November 02 – Standard Lithium has recently announced that its hydroxide pilot plant has been successfully commissioned and installed at the project site in El Dorado, Arkansas, USA. The technology is housed in a self-contained unit and takes the lithium chloride feed produced by the company’s existing Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) demonstration plant; it then converts this feed directly into a lithium hydroxide solution using a novel ion-exchange process.
The lithium hydroxide solution generated by the hydroxide pilot will be sent offsite to another location operated by the third-party vendor to complete evaporation and crystallization work to produce battery quality lithium hydroxide. This hydroxide pilot will be operated at the project location for several months, and will be used by the company to assess different technology options for lithium hydroxide production at the company’s South West Arkansas lithium project.
To the company’s knowledge, the project location at Lanxess’ South plant in Arkansas is the only location in North America where lithium is continuously being extracted from brine using a modern DLE process and being converted into both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.
Thyssenkrupp Nucera Wins Contract for Designing, Engineering Chlor-Alkali Plant
November 03 – Cypress Development Corp. has selected thyssenkrupp nucera USA for designing and engineering a chlor-alkali plant, part of the ongoing feasibility study for the Clayton Valley Lithium Project in Nevada, USA. The chlor-alkali plant is an essential component which will allow the project to self-generate two key reagents required for processing lithium-bearing claystone through to a Li2CO3 (lithium carbonate) product.
thyssenkrupp nucera USA is the U.S. subsidiary of thyssenkrupp nucera. thyssenkrupp nucera’s scope of work will include the development of a facility concept for treatment of the recovered brine stream from Cypress’ process and ensure compatibility with the membrane electrolysis cells of a chlor-alkali plant. Standardized and proprietary e-Bitacv7 BiPolar type membrane cell electrolyzers from thyssenkrupp nucera serve as the heart of the chlor-alkali plant to generate the key reagents HCl (hydrochloric acid) and NaOH (sodium hydroxide) required to process the lithium ore.
The NaCl (sodium chloride) and H2O (water) molecules present in the recovered brine are electrolyzed to produce Cl2 (chlorine), H2 (hydrogen) and the sodium hydroxide, where the outside of the cells, the chlorine and hydrogen molecules are combined to produce hydrochloric acid.
The company’s feasibility study on the project commenced in March 2022 under the direction of Wood, with support from Global Resource Engineers, Continental Metallurgical Services, WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure, and Cypress. Progress on the feasibility study is advancing as planned. Wood and the supporting teams have completed or are near completion of several key items, including resource and reserve estimates, mine plan, processing plant design, and tailings and waste storage facilities.
Borealis to Develop Unique Advanced Mechanical Recycling Plant
November 04 – Borealis is designing a first-of-its-kind commercial-scale advanced mechanical recycling plant to be located in Schwechat, Austria. The plant will be based on Borealis’ own Borcycle M technology, which transforms polyolefin-based post-consumer waste into high-performance polymers suitable for demanding applications. This represents another tangible step forward on Borealis’ path to net zero.
The new plant will have capacity to produce over 60 kilo tonnes of advanced mechanical recycled polyolefin solutions and compounds per year. For customers and end-consumers, this will mean an increase in the availability of high-quality recycled plastic products.
The decision was based on positive feedback from the market on recycled polyolefins delivered by a demonstration plant based on the same technology. This plant was located in Lahnstein, Germany and operated by Borealis, Tomra and Zimmerman.
Mechanical recycling plays a key role in Borealis’ approach to achieving circularity, as shown in the integrated cascade model. The new plant will expand Borealis’ capabilities in this area, following on from the acquisitions of plastic recyclers mtm plastics in 2016, and Ecoplast Kunstoffrecycling in 2018.
The front-end engineering design (Feed) stage for the plant will be carried out by Nextchem. Upon successful completion of the Feed phase, Borealis expects to take a final investment decision in the second half of 2023 and start construction by the end of 2023. The first volumes of recycled polyolefin products are expected in 2025.
The plant will support Borealis to deliver on its sustainability commitments, which target a supply capacity of 600 kilo tonnes of circular products and solutions globally by 2025, further increased to 1.8 million tonnes by 2030.
Solvay, Orbia to Develop North America’s Biggest PVDF Facility for Battery Materials
November 07 – Solvay and Orbia have recently announced their entry into a joint venture framework agreement to create a partnership for the production of suspension-grade polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), creating the largest capacity in North America.
With more than half of U.S. car sales projected to be electric by 2030, demand for lithium-ion batteries and PVDF, a thermoplastic fluoropolymer used as a lithium-ion binder and separator coating, is revving up. The Solvay-Orbia joint venture would fill a significant supply gap and will build upon favorable regulatory conditions promoting regional production and material security.
Solvay brings process technology and unparalleled global market know-how to this venture. With a vertically-integrated value chain and material holdings, Orbia’s Fluorinated Solutions business Koura and Polymer Solutions business Vestolit will supply hydrofluoric acid, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and chlorine respectively. In combination, Solvay’s Solef PVDF innovations and Orbia’s raw material assets and production expertise will enable delivery of PVDF that optimizes energy storage efficiency by increasing battery energy-density, safety and power.
The total investment is estimated to be around 850 million dollars, and is expected to be funded in part by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy of 178 million dollars to Solvay to build a facility in Augusta, Georgia. Solvay and Orbia intend to use two production sites, one for raw materials and the other for finished product, located in the southeastern United States.
Both plants are expected to be fully operational by 2026. Commencement of the joint venture is subject to finalizing and entering into definitive agreements between the parties and satisfaction of customary conditions, including obtaining regulatory approvals.
Chlorum Orders Two Modular Chlor-Alkali Electrolysis Plants from Thyssenkrupp Nucera
November 11 – Chlorum Solutions will use thyssenkrupp nucera technology for its next two chlor-alcalis plant in Brazil. The company has ordered two skid mounted plants with BM2.7 electrolysis technology from the supplier of world-leading technologies for high-efficiency electrolysis plants. The two chlor-alkali electrolysis plants will provide the company with a production capacity of 45 tons of chlorine per day each. They will produce sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), HCl (hydrochloric acid) and NaOH (caustic soda).
The first chlor-alkali plant will be installed in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina and the second one in the state of Minas Gerais. thyssenkrupp nucera will provide engineering, equipment (mostly preassembled and tested on skid) and consulting services during the installation and commissioning of the plant.
The modular concept of thyssenkrupp nucera's chlor-alkali plant for smaller capacities offers significant savings in construction costs and enables fast, simple and cost-effective assembly. The complete plant is prefabricated in modules that only need to be erected and connected together on site. This approach significantly reduces project risks and duration. Both plants are planned to go into operation in the second quarter of 2024.
The company Chlorum Solutions specializes in the construction and operation of small-scale chlorine plants for the production of hydrochloric acid and hypochlorite, and aims to build several new plants in the coming years.
Wood Wins Contract for First Large-Scale Commercial Green H2 Facility in Norway
November 14 – Wood has been awarded the front-end engineering design (Feed) scope for Gen2 Energy’s green hydrogen production facility, located in Mosjøen in northern Norway. Gen2 Energy is a Norwegian company dedicated to developing, building, owning and operating an integrated value chain for green hydrogen.
As a leader in hydrogen production solutions, Wood will apply its decades of hydrogen expertise and breadth of project implementation capabilities to develop the new 100 MW plant – the first large-scale commercial green hydrogen production facility in Norway. The award follows Wood’s initial conceptualization of the plant as well as other production facilities that Gen2 Energy is developing to accelerate the distribution of hydrogen produced in Norway via zero-emission renewable energy to the UK and across Europe.
Due to good access to low-priced electricity, Mosjøen in Vefsn municipality in northern Norway is an excellent place for large-scale production of green hydrogen. The first phase of Gen2 Energy's plan is to build a 100 MW plant with a continuous production of around 45 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.
Jonas Meyer, CEO of Gen2 Energy, said: “The contract with Wood represents a milestone in Gen2 Energy's targeted work to realise large-scale production of green hydrogen in Norway. In close collaboration with Wood, we will build a facility that turns green hydrogen into a commercial product for markets in Norway and northern Europe. Gen2 Energy's hydrogen expertise matches very well with Wood's industrial project capabilities.”
This contract will be delivered by Wood’s existing teams in Norway, with support from the company’s global experts from within its operations and projects business units. Wood will execute the Feed study jointly with personnel from Gen2 Energy.
Invista Holds Ground-Breaking Ceremony for New Nylon Polymer Facility
November 18 – The Invista nylon site in South Carolina recently hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for its new nylon polymer facility, a milestone that represents the site’s transformation to a global nylon 6,6 production facility. The highly anticipated 90,000-square-foot facility is part of a 64-million-dollar investment over two years to enhance the site’s polymer and Cordura fiber spinning production. It will include nine loading docks, twenty-two storage/packaging silos and bulk loading capabilities.
With a strong demand for nylon polymer products, the new facility will allow the site to increase production volume of polymer to new markets, deliver newly developed polymers to the market, implement future volume expansion opportunities, and have the flexibility to meet customers’ individual packaging needs.
“We are excited to be one step closer to the transformation of the Camden site into one of Invista’s global nylon 6,6 production facilities. Our vision is built on decades of knowledge around polymer development, the flexibility to meet our customers’ needs and the strength of our teams to be world class in our operations. This transformation allows us to grow and meet the future needs of our global customers along with continued support of our local community,” said Jay Johnson, site manager.
The project is in partnership with Katoen Natie Specialty Chemicals USA with completion expected in 2024.
Qatar Energy, Chevron Phillips Chemical to Develop World’s Largest Integrated Polymers Facility
November 22 – Qatar Energy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company have taken a Final Investment Decision (FID) on the Golden Triangle Polymers Plant, an 8.5-billion-dollar world-scale integrated polymers facility in the Texas Gulf Coast area in the United States of America.
Located about 180 kilometers east of Houston, the plant will include an ethylene cracker unit with a capacity of 2.08 million tons per annum, making it the largest in the world; and two high-density polyethylene units with a combined capacity of 2 million tons per annum, also making them the largest derivatives units of their kind in the world. Construction of the plant will begin immediately, with an expected startup date in 2026. The plant will be owned by Golden Triangle Polymers Company, a joint venture in which Qatar Energy holds a 49 % equity interest with 51 % held by CP Chem.
The project, expected to create more than 500 full-time jobs and approximately 4,500 construction jobs, is Qatar Energy’s second largest investment in the U.S. after the 11-billion-dollar investment (100 % basis) in the Golden Pass LNG production and export facility, which is currently under construction and is expected to start up in late 2024.
Minister Al-Kaabi added: “When added to our existing production in Qatar, this new investment will place Qatar Energy amongst the largest petrochemical producers in the world. It will also significantly expand our footprint in the United States, contributing substantially to the communities of the Golden Triangle region of Texas by generating an estimated 50 billion-dollars of net economic impact over 20 years.”
Once operational, the plant will produce polyethylene, which is used in the production of durable goods like pipe for natural gas and water delivery and recreational products such as kayaks and coolers. It is also used in essential packaging applications to protect and preserve food, and keep medical supplies sterile. The polyethylene produced by the project will be sold primarily to Asia, Europe and Latin America.
The project enjoys special environmental and sustainability attributes that would be reflected in about 25 % lower greenhouse gas emissions than similar facilities in the United States and Europe.
LG Chem to Build Mega Cathode Manufacturing Facility in USA
November 23 – LG Chem recently announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state of Tennessee to establish a new cathode manufacturing facility in Clarksville with an investment of more than 3 billion dollars. The new plant in Clarksville, Tennessee will be the largest of its kind in the United States, covering 420 acres with a production target of 120,000 tons of cathode material annually by 2027 to power batteries in 1.2 million pure electric vehicles with a range of 310 miles (500 km) per charge.
Construction of the plant will begin in the first quarter of next year with mass production to start in the second half of 2025. The Tennessee site will play a critical role in LG Chem’s strategy to increase its battery materials business including cathode material. The signing ceremony was attended by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter and LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-Cheol, among others.
For LG Chem, Tennessee was the best choice due to its proximity to key customers, ease of transporting raw materials and active cooperation of the state and local governments. The Tennessee facility allows LG Chem to proactively address the changing dynamics of the global battery material market and with legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). In addition to the benefits realized by investing in manufacturing on U.S. soil, LG Chem envisions the Tennessee site being the supply chain hub where material and recycling partners work together to supply global customers.
The new facility will produce advanced NCMA cathode materials containing nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum for next-generation EV batteries with improved battery capacity and stability. NCMA cathode materials are among the most critical ingredients for determining the battery capacity and life of electric vehicles. The Tennessee plant will feature LG Chem’s most advanced production technology including the ability to produce more than 10,000 tons of cathode material per line, the industry’s highest.
LG Chem applied this technology for the first time to its fourth cathode manufacturing site in Cheongju, South Korea with much success. The company also plans to implement its smart factory technology in Tennessee to automate the entire production process and establish a quality analysis and control system that will be the benchmark for all other cathode plants in the world.
The new facility will be designed with the environment and future needs of clean energy in mind. LG Chem will collaborate with power suppliers in Tennessee to respond to the demands of customers, including battery and electric vehicle manufacturers, for more renewable energy sources. Operation of the new facility will rely completely on renewable energy provided by solar and hydroelectric power.
Fujifilm to Build New Cell Culture Media Manufacturing Facility in USA
November 29 – Fujifilm Corporation recently announced a 188-million-dollar investment to establish a cell culture media manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, USA. The new site will be operated by Fujifilm Irvine Scientific, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Corporation, and a world leader in the development and manufacture of advanced cell culture solutions for life science research, bioproduction, cell therapy manufacturing, and medical applications. The new facility is planned to ensure that Fujifilm Irvine Scientific can meet increasing market demands for high quality cell culture media solutions.
The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will be over 250,000 sq. feet and located across 64 acres in RTP. The site will support cGMP manufacturing of animal component-free, dry powder, and liquid media, adding additional production capacity for Fujifilm Irvine Scientific of 800,000 Kg/year for dry powder, 3,300,000 L/year for liquid, and 40,000 L/day of Water for Injection.
Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has experienced rapid growth over the past decade and the forecasted demand for cell culture media to support bioproduction and advanced therapies is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10-12 % through 2031. To meet the requirements of its customers, the company made the strategic decision to expand its capacity by constructing manufacturing facilities in biotech centers around the world. This strategy ensures a secure supply chain, and rapid, reliable delivery of products through the development of extensive regional supply networks, critical to supporting cell and gene therapies.
Sharing the harmonized Quality System and raw material program of Fujifilm Irvine Scientific, this regional supply network enables the company to rapidly adjust to natural disasters or unforeseen issues and continue operations and delivery of products to customers worldwide. As an area popular with life science companies, RTP in North Carolina was selected as an ideal location, providing enhanced supply chain security, and for customers in the region, more efficient shipping and faster delivery.
Fujifilm’s group also operates cell culture media manufacturing facilities in California, USA, the Netherlands, and the Saitama and Aichi prefectures in Japan. Land development and construction are scheduled to start in spring 2023 with operation of the facility beginning in 2025.