Borealis AG has announced a feasibility study for a potential propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Belgium to support European supply of polypropylene and propylene.
The Vienna-based group called the PDH project “world-scale”, which would have a targeted annual production capacity of 740,000 metric tons per year, “making it one of the largest and most efficient facilities in the world.” The plant would be located at the Borealis polypropylene production site in Kallo, Belgium.
“A new PDH plant of this scale would be a significant investment for Borealis in Europe,” said Markku Korvenranta, Borealis executive vice president, base chemicals. “It would strengthen our long term commitment to be the innovative polypropylene and propylene supplier that is meeting the needs of our customers today and in the future.”
Borealis will conduct the feasibility study during the next nine months. It expects to make a final investment decision in the third quarter of 2018, and the potential start-up of the plant is scheduled for the second half of 2021.
“During the coming quarters we will be engaging with the value chain partners and authorities to work out the commercial and operational details of the project,” said Korvenranta.
Borealis said it had chosen the Kallo location due to its logistical position and its experience in propylene production and handling. The group has selected Honeywell UOP's Oleflex technology for the new plant.
“This technology is widely used and is a reliable and sustainable choice for on-purpose propylene production,” it said. In an “on-purpose” propylene production route, propane is selectively dehydrogenated, which means that hydrogen is removed from the molecule in a chemical process, to become propylene, it said.
Propylene is more commonly produced as a by-product from the steam cracking of feedstocks such as naphtha or liquefied petroleum gas. However, in Europe, there has been a dearth of major investments in steam crackers in recent years.
Thomas Van De Velde, Borealis vice president, hydrocarbons and energy, said: “In Europe propylene demand is increasing while the supply growth from steam crackers and refineries is slowing down. With the market tightening, an on-purpose propylene investment is needed to ensure a reliable platform for continuous, long-term growth in propylene and its derivatives in Europe.”
Borealis will be at K 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany, next month, Hall 6/A43.