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Zero-CO2 ethane cracker technology is available commercially

| By Scott Jenkins

A next-generation ethane-feed steam cracker designed by Lummus Technology (Houston; has the ability to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions in the production of ethylene. The zero-CO2 design utilizes Lummus SRT pyrolysis furnaces and a state-of-the-art product-recovery system. Lummus improved these features to reduce the firing requirements in the pyrolysis furnaces and to enhance the recovery of hydrogen such that the combustion of hydrocarbon fuel is eliminated.

The combustion of methane or other carbon-based fuels can be eliminated through innovations to the cracking heater design, resulting in significant reductions in the fuel firing demand, as well as enhancements in the recovery section and a partial switch from steam turbine to electric drivers on the major compressors.

The design is very flexible, to allow for differences in specific site conditions, and is based on fully demonstrated technology, reconfigured for the sole purpose of CO2 elimination, explains Jose de Barros, who leads Lummus’ ethylene business.

“The zero-CO2 cracker is less the invention of new technologies, and more a complete rethinking of all the elements of conventional steam cracker to allow it to operate without generating CO2,” says Leon de Bruyn, president and CEO of Lummus. Lummus has filed a patent on the cracker technology, which is said to be the first of its kind in industry. It is now available for commercial use and can be incorporated into both new and existing ethane crackers, and at sites and facilities of different sizes, de Bruyn says.