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OMV to construct high-purity isobutene plant at Burghausen refinery

By Mary Page Bailey |

OMV AG (Vienna, Austria; www.omv.com) has made the decision to invest €64 million in the construction of an isobutene (ISO C4) plant – the building phase is now imminent: construction of the new plant will begin in summer 2019 at the Burghausen Refinery, with operations planned to start in September 2020. From this point onwards, high-purity isobutene will be produced in Burghausen using a brand new technology.

The idea behind the innovative method for heat integration came about through a collaboration by OMV and BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; www.basf.com) and was jointly filed for a global patent by both companies. This plant represents the first application worldwide of technology developed in collaboration with BASF for direct production of high-purity isobutene. As a supplier of catalysts and licensor of petrochemicals technologies, BASF offers a catalyst system that intrinsically fulfills all process requirements. The new unit for the production of high-purity isobutene will be integrated into the existing metathesis plant at the OMV Burghausen Refinery, which manufactures propylene for the plastics industry. One major advantage here is the exceptional energy efficiency of the planned ISO C4 unit. The strategy developed by OMV for heat integration allows up to 80% of the heating energy required by the new process to be met by waste heat from existing facilities. The ISO C4 unit will have a production capacity of around 60,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr).

Isobutene is part of the C4 hydrocarbons group and is produced from crude oil components by means of thermal cracking. The isobutene produced will complement the current OMV product portfolio and will be used for manufacturing glues, grease and other chemicals such as antioxidants, as well as in the production of vitamin C.

“The new ISO C4 unit is a further element that highlights OMV’s talent for innovation. This exceptionally efficient and innovative technology has allowed us to raise the bar yet again in the petrochemicals sector following on from our metathesis plant that has been operational since 2007. In the medium to long term, the demand for fossil fuels will change, which will also affect the refining business. That is why the strategic focus of the OMV Downstream business lies in petrochemicals. We want to achieve long-term, sustainable growth and continue to strengthen our competitive position”, said Thomas Gangl, OMV Executive Board member for Refining & Petrochemical Operations.

“With this seminal new technique for producing a key chemical, BASF is helping its customers to achieve more energy-efficient production. As the global market leader for process catalysts, we serve as a development partner for our customers and are proud to support OMV in becoming even more successful”, said Detlef Ruff, Senior Vice President Process Catalysts at BASF.

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