Heartland Polymers has begun production of polypropylene resin in Strathcona County, Alberta.
Calgary-based Heartland will initially make homopolymer PP, with plans to add random copolymer PP in 2023. Once commercial production is underway, Heartland is expected to produce more than 1 billion pounds of PP annually, filling approximately 18 rail cars per day, seven days a week.
"A safe commissioning of our [PP] plant is a crucial step towards commercial production of Heartland Polymers," Jim Madro, petrochemicals senior vice president, said in a July 5 news release.
He added that the plant has been producing pellets since late June with polymer grade propylene from its storage cavern at its parent company, Inter Pipeline's Redwater olefinic fractionator. The complex is on schedule for an integrated start-up in the third quarter, at which point commercial production will start.
Yonas Kebede, PP sales and marketing director, added that Heartland "is anticipated to be one of the most reliable, service-oriented [PP] producers in the industry."
"We have rail connections to every major shipping hub in North America, storage-in-transit to expedite delivery times, real-time GPS shipment tracking, and our geographic location means we are less vulnerable to extreme weather incidents that can cause downtime," he said. We also have reliable access to one of the world's largest sources of propane feedstock."
The primary source of feedstock will be an on-site propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant, which is expected to provide integrated service to the PP plant in the third quarter, making it the first integrated complex of its kind in North America, officials said.
They added that having the option of storage caverns and direct on-site production of PGP "ensures Heartland Polymers customers exceptional reliability on a go-forward basis."
Design and technology paired with local feedstock means Heartland is expected to generate 65 percent less greenhouse gas than average global PP facilities, officials said. Because of its integration, the complex is designed to use by-products ethane and hydrogen to fuel power production in a cogeneration unit. That unit is expected to make up about 32 percent of the operation's total fuel usage, reducing the total carbon footprint by almost 300 million pounds annually.
Using air cooling instead of water cooling also has an impact on the amount of water used at Heartland. When fully in service, the complex is expected to utilize 80 per cent less make-up water than water cooled operations.
In addition to Heartland, the North American PP market will gain almost 1 billion pounds of capacity by the end of the year when ExxonMobil Chemical completes and expansion in Baton Rouge, La.