The production of ethylene is achieved by exposing hydrocarbons to high temperatures. The cracking of hydrocarbons is done in so-called coils. As an unwanted by-product of this cracking process, coke is formed. Coke settles on the coil walls resulting in clogging of the coils and corrosion of the material. In addition, the coke formed is a perfect heat insulator, requiring more energy to make the same amount of ethylene. All this results in shorter run times, lower energy efficiency and limited coil life.
Since 2016, we have been involved in the four-year European project IMPROOF. The goal of the project is to improve the energy efficiency of ethylene furnaces in a cost-effective manner while reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 and NOx).
One way to reduce coke formation is to use advanced coil materials in conjunction with 3D reactor designs. Less coke not only extends the run time, the time between maintenance stops, but also ensures longer component life and lower CO2 emissions.
In addition, the team is working on developing a high-emitting coating. We want to apply this to the surface of the furnace walls and the external coil walls. This coating can reduce energy consumption. In this project, we act as a demonstration plant and are implementing the developed technologies in one of the three cracking facilities at Dow Terneuzen.
With this project, we want to cut energy consumption, reduce pollution in the furnaces and lower greenhouse gas emissions. We hope that with the results of this research, we can optimize the production process not only in Terneuzen, but also at other sites.