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Orlen Unipetrol launches emissions-reduction upgrade project

| By Mary Bailey

The ORLEN Unipetrol Group has launched the implementation of an extensive investment at its production plant in Kralupy nad Vltavou. The investment is focused primarily on recovering of flue heat from combustion processes. ORLEN Unipetrol expects from this project, which it has included among its five most important strategic initiatives, to reduce emissions by up to 15,000 tons per year while increasing the flexibility of the Kralupy refinery and its energy self-sufficiency. The unit is scheduled to be completed in mid-2025, with an investment of more than half a billion Czech crowns. The construction of the recovery unit is another concrete step of ORLEN Unipetrol Group on the way to emission neutrality, which the Group wants to achieve by 2050 at the latest.
The project focuses on utilization of flue gas waste heat from combustion processes to produce boiler feed water by reusing the turbine condensate obtained by condensing the high-pressure steam driving the turbines forcing the key machines at the FCC unit in the refinery. After removal of undesirable substances, oxygen and pH adjustment the condensate is heated to the required temperature by using the heat of the flue gas. It the last step, the treated condensate is pressurized by high-pressure pumps to increase its pressure to the required value while producing boiler feed water with the required parameters. This hot and high pressure water is used to produce the high-pressure steam necessary for driving the turbines needed for unit operation. The aim of this process is the optimization of water consumption and efficient utilization of  thermal energy. By  maximization of the heat from the combustion processes utilization will be increased energy and operational efficiency.
“Increasing energy efficiency in operations and reducing our carbon footprint is one of the fundamental pillars of our strategy. We plan many other significant investments by 2050 when the ORLEN Group aims to become carbon neutral. They will primarily increase the efficient use of energy in our operations. Investing in the reuse of heat from combustion products is among the company’s crucial strategic initiatives,” says Maciej Romanów, a member of the board of directors of the ORLEN Unipetrol Group.
An interesting aspect of the investment in the Kralupy refinery is the installation of special polymer acid resistant heat exchangers, which is the key reason for their use in this application. The innovative technology of exchangers in the “gas-fluid” variant is currently a relatively new technology in the refining industry. This concept of using heat exchangers within the heat recovery unit, was invented and developed by employees from ORLEN Unipetrol, and will be a unique solution in the refining industry. The main objective is to maximize the utilization of the produced heat and to increase the energy efficiency of the process related to the reduction of emissions.
The ORLEN Unipetrol Group, which wants to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% by 2030 compared to 2020, is going to invest more than CZK 35 billion in green projects and digitalisation. The Group wants to achieve full emission neutrality by 2050 at the latest. The key areas of the Group’s transformation are decarbonization, reduction of energy intensity, intensification of the use of renewable resources, development of biofuels and hydrogen, recycling in the refining and petrochemical segments and digitalization.