Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. has opened a pilot plant for polyethylene resin at its research and technology site in Bartlesville, Okla.
CP Chem — based in The Woodlands, Texas — held a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 27 to launch the pilot plant. The plant will be used for PE research, including new catalyst and polymer development, before being used on full-scale operations — such as in the massive PE capacity expansion that the firm will open in mid-2017 in Old Ocean, Texas.
“It's been a year since we broke ground in Bartlesville,” Don Lycette, senior research and technology vice president, said in a news release. “We now have cutting-edge technology to assist our customers by developing new products, processes and technologies.”
CP Chem's base PE technologies are the MarTech loop slurry process — which has been in use for more than 55 years — and its newer MarTech advanced dual-loop technology. Both are used to make Marlex-brand PE. CP Chem also licenses its PE technology, which is used at more than 80 plants in 16 countries.
CP Chem and other North American PE makers have embarked on major PE expansions as a result of newfound supplies of natural gas throughout the region. These affordable supplies have been realized through the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which is better known as fracking.
The Old Ocean project will give CP Chem more than 2 billion pounds of new annual PE capacity, as well as more than 3 billion pounds of new capacity for ethylene feedstock. PE made at the site is expected to be used in flexible packaging, pipe, merchandise bags and similar applications.