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Comment PDF Sustainability

A Push for ‘Green’ Crackers

By Gerald Ondrey |

Today’s steam crackers are bigger than ever — those of tomorrow might be carbon neutral Steam cracking is a key process of the petrochemical industry, whereby naphtha or other petroleum-based feedstock is thermally broken down (cracked) into smaller building-block compounds, such as ethylene, propylene, butadienes and BTX (benzene, toluene and xylenes), which are then processed into plastics, rubber and other polymers and chemicals. The feedstock is cracked within milliseconds as it flows through the furnace tubes at temperatures of around 850°C. Crackers are large, complex units with multiple furnaces — sometimes as many as ten — that are integrated with many different process units for separating and purifying the different olefins, which in turn are processed into products. Hence, crackers are at the heart of the aptly named petrochemical complex (Figure 1). Figure 1. Steam crackers are part of large petrochemical complexes, such as Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.’s Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown Texas. CPChem’s 1.5-million m.t./yr ethane cracker started up in 2018. TechnipFMC[/caption] Although crackers will operate with the most economical feedstock, depending on the location, all crackers have one thing in common:…
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