Hydrogen for the Petrochemical Sector

The hydrogen economy is gaining momentum, and technologies from Linde are playing a key role in helping manufacturers to unlock the potential of this light gas.

Corporate Clean H2
  • As a plant engineering and gases specialist, we are the only company to cover the entire hydrogen value chain – from production and processing through distribution and storage to everyday industrial and consumer use cases.
  • Our all-round technologies and expertise in the field of H2 make us more than just a competent partner. We are the global leader in this field and renowned for our smart and – above all – integrated solutions.
  • Integrated refinery and petrochemical operations use huge volumes of hydrogen, for example to desulfurize the fuels they produce. However, the application opportunities for H2 extend far beyond desulfurization, as one of our largest refinery and petrochemical customers is demonstrating.

Refineries require huge amounts of hydrogen. And companies that convert low-grade crude oil into low-emission fuels need even more of this light gas. Which is why Linde Engineering was awarded by a leading global company to integrate hydrogen technologies enabling even highly sulfurous crude oil to be refined into high-grade, low-emission fuels.

Steam reformer

The Beginnings of Hydrogen Production

Our engineers built the world’s largest H2 plant complex to generate the huge streams of hydrogen required by the customer. It includes eight steam reformers that produce synthesis gas – a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In total, 670,000 standard cubic meters of H2 can be generated per hour from this syngas. Linde is regarded as the leading provider of steam reforming plants worldwide, having already built more than 200 steam reformers with capacities ranging from 300 to 200,000 standard cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. Natural gas is typically used as the H2 feedstock. As it is a fossil resource, experts refer to this kind of hydrogen as gray hydrogen.

Refinery residues such as petroleum coke is another potential source of H2, and was the feedstock chosen by Linde’s refinery and petrochemical customer. It is a by-product of refining operations. To generate hydrogen from this feedstock, the petroleum coke has to be heated to very high temperatures together with oxygen and steam in special units known as gasifiers. This partial oxidation process generates a raw synthesis gas, which is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and other by-products.

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Linde has got the perfect solution when it comes to carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

Pure Gas Streams

The raw synthesis gas from the gasifiers has to be scrubbed to remove impurities such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. Our RECTISOL® wash process is the ideal acid gas removal for this purification step as it removes all unwanted components in just one go. For our refinery and petrochemical customer, we installed the world’s largest RECTISOL® units, each one with a capacity of 2,300,000 standard cubic meters per hour. Almost 25 percent of the scrubbed synthesis gas is fed into the hydrogen production flow, which the company then uses to remove impurities from the fuels it manufactures. RECTISOL® highlights include an extremely pure CO2 stream, making it perfect for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). In addition to this, Linde Engineering integrated an efficient sulfur recovery solution with oxygen enrichment, enabling the customer to produce over 2,000 tons of elemental sulfur per day.

State-of-the-art hydrogen fueling technologies from Linde Hydrogen FuelTech

Pure H2 for a Broad Range of Applications

The purified syngas or the gaseous hydrogen extracted from it is distributed via a pipeline network, which brings the gas to the precise point of use at the industrial complex. The customer is also planning to use the hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles. This will require transportable H2 containers and, further down the line, on-site cryogenic tanks. The refinery and petrochemical customer currently uses half of the syngas for electrical power generation by gas turbines and heating across different processes. In future, however, the company also wants to use it to manufacture chemicals such as glycol, dimethyl ether and acetic acid (synthesis). Linde Hydrogen FuelTech has already developed refueling concepts with the potential to drive widespread commercialization of hydrogen as a future-fit fuel. Our hydrogen experts draw on a wealth of experience here to provide our customers with best technical and budgetary fit for their needs. To gain initial experience in H2 fueling on the ground, the refinery and petrochemical customer is currently focusing on buses. At the same time, it is also making plans to gradually build out a hydrogen infrastructure. This includes adding hydrogen refueling capabilities to existing conventional fueling stations along a key transport artery in the region. As some of these locations are up to 1,000 kilometers away from the H2 production units at the refinery site, the experts at Linde Hydrogen FuelTech have integrated capabilities to transport cryogenic liquid hydrogen as produced by liquefaction units of Linde Kryotechnik into their concept.

The Hydrogen Value Chain

Producing Hydrogen
  • Steam reformers use natural gas, liquified gas or naphtha as a feedstock for hydrogen production. The feedstocks are heated to initially produce a synthesis gas, which is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
  • Heavy refinery residues can also be converted to a raw synthesis gas using partial oxidation.
Processing Hydrogen
  • The resulting syngas must now be scrubbed to remove impurities such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.
  • The RECTISOL® wash process uses an organic solvent to remove unwanted components in a single step.
Distributing and Storing Hydrogen
  • The resulting hydrogen is then fed to downstream processes via a pipeline network.
  • Our cryogenic tanks are ideal for on demand of liquid hydrogen. They have capacities ranging from 3,000 to more than 100,000 liters and come with standardized working pressures of up to 36 bar.
Using Hydrogen
  • H2-rich synthesis gas can also be used to manufacture chemicals such as glycol, dimethyl ether and acetic acid.
  • Scrubbed hydrogen can be used as an environmentally sound and climate-friendly fuel for different fuel-cell vehicles.

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