One of the ways the firm is achieving these goals is through developing new technologies jointly with other companies. For example, a project with
Dow Chemical, Midland, Mich., has led to a technology that is said to vastly improve the production process of a key chemical intermediate, propylene oxide (PO). The hydrogen-peroxide-to-propylene-oxide (HPPO) route reportedly offers distinct economic and environmental benefits compared to conventional technologies (Figure 3). A joint study using BASF's Eco-Efficiency Analysis tool revealed the new HPPO process reduces wastewater by 70–80% and energy use by approximately 35% compared to existing PO technology.
FOCUS ON BASICS
Dramatic changes in technology aren't always the answer, though. For instance, ExxonMobil Chemical, Houston, relied on a "back to basics" energy strategy at its Baytown olefins plant to achieve impressive improvements that have been replicated throughout the company. The four-point strategy focused on: optimizing refrigeration; minimizing steam letdown and venting; reducing energy consumption by better matching the number of pumps online to the number actually required; and decreasing steam loss by improving deaerator vents. Costing just $80,000, the project has produced energy savings of 1.153 trillion BTU/year, a reduction in CO2 emissions of 66,650 ton/year and total energy savings of $6.5 million/year. Overall energy savings per unit of production were 4%. "Low/no cost opportunities for improvements in energy efficiency always exist," concludes the company's report on the project.
Seán Ottewell is Chemical Processing's Editor at Large. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.