Borealis AG has broken ground on a new, world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at its existing production site in Kallo, Belgium, reinforcing its commitment to the European polyolefin industry.
The €1 billion (US$1.02 billion) facility will have a targeted production capacity of 750 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of propylene by mid-2022, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world, Borealis said in a Sept. 9 statement.
The project, which employs Honeywell UOP’s Oleflex technology for on-purpose propylene production, marks the single largest investment ever made by Borealis in Europe.
Propylene is a key building block for plastics production and is the raw material used to produce polypropylene (PP), one of the most widely used plastics.
The new plant, Borealis said, will offer European customers a secure supply of competitively priced propylene and its derivatives.
Earlier this year, UK chemicals giant Ineos announced plans to make a €3 billion (US$3.3 billion) investment in the nearby port of Antwerp to build a 1.25-million-tonne-a-year ethane cracker and a PDH unit producing 750 ktpa of propylene by 2024.
In its statement Sept. 9, Borealis said the economies of scale offered by the Port of Antwerp as well as synergies created by the adjacent production units were among the key factors influencing its decision to invest in the Kallo location.
According to Borealis, the Oleflex technology will reduce energy consumption at the plant while offering higher yields of the same quality as other technologies.
“Less propane will be required, but more own hydrogen will be produced, enabling Borealis to supply not only its own internal needs, but those of third parties as well,” the company added.
Additionally, an embedded multi-fuel cogeneration unit in the new PDH plant will generate a significant part of the steam and electricity required for operations.
The new PDH unit is in alignment with Borealis’ polypropylene (PP) expansion plans, announced last year.
The Austrian polyolefin manufacturer is currently adding 80 ktpa to its PP production capacity in Kallo, bringing the plant’s total production capacity to 380 ktpa by mid-2020.
Additionally, the company has approved the execution of a front-end engineering design (FEED) study to expand its PP operations in Beringen, another Belgian town.
Borealis operates two propylene production units in Beringen, with a combined capacity of 380 ktpa. The new FEED study will investigate increasing production capacity by 250-300 ktpa.
The final investment decision on the Beringen project is expected by the end of 2019 and the start-up by mid-2022.