Sinopec Successfully Tests Crude Oil Steam-Cracking Technology

Nov. 24, 2021
Sinopec's next step is to build a million-ton industrial demonstration plant.

Sinopec successfully completes China's first industrial application of crude oil steam-cracking technology.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) says it has successfully tested its key project, "Technological Development and Industrial Application of Light Crude Oil Cracking into Ethylene," this month at Sinopec Tianjin. The technology converts crude oil directly into ethylene, propylene and other chemical products (“crude-to-chemicals”) and is reportedly the first industrial application of crude oil steam-cracking technology in China. The milestone is “of great significance to the transformation and upgrading of China's petrochemical industry, also contributing to achieve ‘dual carbon’ goals,” according to the company.

The crude oil steam-cracking technology is one of the "crude-to-chemicals" offering that "skips" the traditional crude oil refining process to directly convert crude oil into valuable chemical products like ethylene and propylene – analogous to making bread directly with wheat and eliminating the flour grinding process. This approach will greatly shorten the production process, lower production costs and significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, according to Sinopec.

The technology was developed and engineered by Sinopec's Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Industry and Sinopec Engineering Group (SEG) and the industrial testing was carried out at Sinopec Tianjin. It has applied for 45 Chinese patents for invention and one international patent for invention. At present, ExxonMobil and Sinopec are reportedly the only two companies to successfully achieve industrial application of crude oil steam-cracking technology worldwide. It's estimated that for every 1 million tons of crude oil processed by this technology, nearly 500,000 tons of chemical products can be produced, 400,000 tons of which are high-value products such as ethylene, propylene, light aromatics and hydrogen, according to Sinopec. Overall, Sinopec says its technology has reached an internationally advanced level.

Sinopec has always emphasized the R&D and application of "crude-to-chemicals" technologies. In April 2021, the catalytic cracking technology of crude oil independently developed by Sinopec's Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Industry, another "crude-to-chemicals" offering, also completed industrial application in Yangzhou. Similar to the crude oil steam-cracking technology, the chemical yield of catalytic cracking is also about 50%, and combining the two technologies is expected to increase the total amount of chemicals produced by crude oil to more than 70%, according to the company.

Sinopec is preparing to carry out the development and engineering design of packaged technology for the production of ethylene by steam-cracking 1 million tons of crude oil at its Tahe company in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, building an industrial demonstration plant for the direct production of chemicals from crude oil and establishing a new model for the transformation and development of China's petrochemical industry.

For more information, visit:

Sponsored Recommendations

Heat Recovery: Turning Air Compressors into an Energy Source

More than just providing plant air, they're also a useful source of heat, energy savings, and sustainable operations.

Controls for Industrial Compressed Air Systems

Master controllers leverage the advantages of each type of compressor control and take air system operations and efficiency to new heights.

Discover Your Savings Potential with the Kaeser Toolbox

Discover your compressed air station savings potential today with our toolbox full of calculators that will help you determine how you can optimize your system!

The Art of Dryer Sizing

Read how to size compressed air dryers with these tips and simple calculations and correction factors from air system specialists.