The perfect team for plant engineering challenges.
Teamwork is at the heart of every plant engineering project we embark on – whether we're designing cryogenic research systems, innovating processes flows with startups or future-proofing plant technologies. In fact, it defines all of our customer relationships. By tuning into each customer's needs, we align project execution with individual expectations.
Hightech for Down-Under
Organizational excellence paired with technological know-how is a winning combination for our many different customer projects. For instance, it enabled our experts to ship a "ready-to-run" nitrogen removal unit (NRU) to its final destination in Australia for integration into the country's largest natural gas plant. The NRU was needed to increase the calorific value of natural gas so that it could be fed into the local supply grid. The customer turned to our expertise in cryogenic plant engineering to design the heart of the 900-ton NRU: the coldbox. This 35-meter high module is extremely complex and was planned specifically for the conditions in Australia. Factors such as the composition of the natural gas and the way it changes during the lifecycle of the unit were all incorporated in the design. In addition to the entire planning process, Linde was responsible for the procurement of all parts and module assembly. In short, we provided a one-stop service for our customer.
Plant engineering for the extreme cold
Two of our coldboxes are also playing the star role in another lighthouse project. The European Spallation Source (ESS) is currently being built in the southern Swedish city of Lund. When finished, it will be the world's most powerful neutron source. Part of the facility will have to be cooled to two kelvins, another part to 16 kelvins – in other words, minus 271 and minus 257 degrees Celsius. The ESS would not be able to function without this sophisticated and powerful cryogenic technology. This unique research facility is due to open its doors in 2023, giving scientists specialized in materials, energy, health and the environment an opportunity to carry out cutting-edge experiments. Linde Kryotechnik custom-developed the two highly complex coldboxes for this project - each weighing two tons. Our engineers worked closely with ESS scientists to design the refrigeration system. This close partnership was key to the success of the project as the designers had to master many engineering challenges and detailed customization requests, including the need for different power stages. Our experts are also responsible for installing, commissioning and testing the coldboxes on site.
Our engineers are constantly looking for ways to optimize plant technologies so our customers can operate more efficiently. This efficiency drive also extends to the production of syngas, a vital industrial process. Steam reforming is the most common method used to obtain this mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide gas. To reduce the amount of steam used in the process and optimize its energy balance, plant engineering specialists at Linde teamed up with BASF to develop DRYREF™ technology. As the name suggests, the process is based on dry reforming. Reducing the steam input is easier said than done, however. It would result in the formation of carbon deposits on the surfaces of conventionally used catalysts and block the key reaction, i.e. the conversion of natural gas and steam into synthesis gas. To get around this problem, BASF and its subsidiary hte® developed the innovative catalyst SYNSPIRE™ G1-110. The catalyst has unique properties that suppress the formation of soot on its surface. This enabled Linde to optimize the process design and reduce the amount of steam used, which in turn increases energy efficiency and reduces operating costs. In addition, the DRYREF™ innovation supports carbon dioxide recycling - including carbon dioxide from other processes - thus improving the overall carbon footprint of the plant. The DRYREF™ technology has been extensively tested, initially in a laboratory and then in a small-scale pilot facility. Later, our engineers put the technology through its paces in the Linde Pilot Reformer, a large pilot facility used to test new plant engineering technologies under real-life conditions. The DRYREF™ technology was then incorporated into a commercial plant to confirm market maturity.
Making ammonia plants more flexible
Maximizing productivity, future-proofing designs and prioritizing the needs of operators - our ammonia customers can rely on our engineers for all three. Because that is exactly what the Linde Ammonia Concept (LAC™) concept achieves for ammonia plants. LAC™ provides customers with greater flexibility over the feedstocks they use – from natural gas through methanol to naphtha and heavy oil. This benefit proved key in convincing a customer in Salalah, Oman, to implement LAC™. In this case, we are using a hydrogen-rich gas provided by the plant operator.
Our engineers also integrated a clean syngas generation stage into the process. This gives operators the option of using valuable gas streams such as hydrogen or carbon dioxide as additional product. This benefit was a deciding factor in favor of LAC™ for our customers in Togliatti (Russia) and Al Jubail (Saudi Arabia). In addition to this, our technology also eliminates the need for three catalytic steps overall, which means LAC™ consumes only half the catalyst material required by conventional processes. A modular design makes LAC™ an attractive option for smaller ammonia plants in particular. Demand for this technology is on the rise. The fact that LAC™ is an inert-free process is a further benefit as it eliminates the need for scrubbing and recovery processes, thus reducing the number of plant engineering components required overall. This results in a compact design that facilitates transport and on-site assembly.
Inspiring plant technology
The ammonia plant isn't the only facility built by Linde Engineering in Al Jubail. Our engineers also delivered other key plant engineering units for the industrial complex owned by the Sadara Chemical Company, thus securing the long-term supply of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and ammonia gases. This project is special as it was the first time that a chemical facility of this scale, consisting of so many units, had ever been constructed in a single phase lasting just a few years. Linde Engineering invested USD 380 million in the Sadara project, making it one of the largest single investments over the last few years and the company’s first on-site project in Al Jubail. The technical operating concept was developed by experts at Linde Engineering and Linde Gas, who collaborated across our sites worldwide. It proved key in winning over the chemical group. We even achieved mechanical completion of the plants ahead of schedule and were presented with an award by Sadara in recognition of our performance here. The entire chemical complex went on stream in 2017 and produces more than three million tons of various fine chemicals and high-performance plastics per year.