Chinese refiner confirms first commercial use of new process technology

Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), has commissioned a new processing unit to boost production of light olefins and aromatics at its integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China.

The first commercial installation of its kind equipped with Honeywell International Inc. subsidiary Honeywell UOP LLC’s new UOP MaxEne process technology, the unit improves naphtha feedstock for catalytic reforming and naphtha steam-cracking units to help increase production of petrochemicals used to make plastics, Honeywell and Sinopec said.

Implementation of Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical’s MaxEne unit comes as part of a previous agreement between Honeywell UOP and Sinopec to jointly commercialize the technology following its favorable performance during pilot-scale testing, the service provider said.

In addition to licensing, Honeywell UOP provided basic engineering, key equipment, adsorbents, and technical support for the Nanjing complex’s unit, which has processed more than 2.5 million tonnes of naphtha feed since its initial startup in 2013.

Neither Sinopec nor Honeywell UOP disclosed a precise capacity for the new unit.

MaxEne process technology

Using Honeywell UOP’s proprietary Sorbex adsorptive separation technology, the MaxEne process continuously separates full-range naphtha into normal paraffin-rich and paraffin-depleted streams, from which improved naphtha is again recovered via fractionation for use as specialized feedstock at steam crackers and catalytic reformers.

Paraffin separation occurs in an adsorption chamber divided into a number of beds, each of which contains shape-selective adsorbent.

A rotary valve connecting to each of the chamber’s beds directs flows to simulate moving-bed countercurrent adsorptive separation. The valve also is used intermittently to switch the position of liquid feed and withdrawal points in the adsorbent chamber.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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