Petrotahlil - Since the establishment of the strategic alliance between Clariant and Shanghai Huaxi in late January of 2018, the two companies have taken on a major joint project to enhance the hydrogen production unit of Zhejiang Baling Hengyi Caprolactam Co. Ltd (BHCC), located in the Xiaoshan district of Hangzhou in Zhejiang, China.
As a leading Chinese speciality chemicals company, BHCC is a joint venture between SINOPEC Group and Zhejiang Hengyi Group, which runs the largest single-line caprolactam production facility globally with an annual capacity of 500 000 t. The plant’s hydrogen unit was constructed with a combination of Shanghai Huaxi’s sophisticated hydrogen production technology and Clariant’s state-of-the-art ShiftMax 300 MTS catalyst. Start-up in July 2019 resulted in highly satisfactory performance, as shown, for example, in a carbon monoxide (CO) content on the reactor exit of only 0.12%.
At an average flow rate of 25 000 Nm3/hr, BHCC’s hydrogen production rate has increased by 2.5% per unit of raw feed, which represents an annual gain of US$500 000.
The unit is also experiencing 32% lower electricity consumption and 44.4% higher steam production, with annual values of US$10 000 and US$440 000, respectively. Simplified operations have further reduced capital investment by US$30 000, as no mechanical structures are required for the waste heat boiler. Furthermore, with Clariant’s ShiftMax 300 it is possible to recycle all condensate water and steam generated in stripper as boiler feed water to reduce energy consumption.
Based on current performance, BHCC is expected to benefit from total annual savings of around US$1 million.
Fei Shen, Deputy General Manager of BHCC, expressed his satisfaction, stating, “Clariant and Shanghai Huaxi have delivered very well on their promise. We were able to quickly achieve greater efficiency and productivity with extremely reliable and stable operations. We also appreciate the technical expertise and service support provided by the two companies.”
ShiftMax 300 is a stabilised copper-zinc catalyst ideally suited to the MTS process. It operates successfully at an extremely low steam-to-dry-gas ratio of 0.31 mol/mol. Due to its highly dispersed copper crystallites, the catalyst ensures high activity at low temperatures around 185°C. This allows sustained operation at high space velocities, close to equilibrium. Producers also benefit from the catalyst’s excellent sulfur resistance, stable pressure drop, thermal and hydrothermal stability. To further simplify start-up, Clariant also offers ShiftMax 300RS in a reduced and stabilised version.
Zhiyuan Ji, General Manager of Shanghai Huaxi Chemical Industry Science & Technology Co., Ltd., commented, “With Clariant, we are very pleased to offer a joint solution to boost the benefits of hydrogen production of BHCC. So far, we have been awarded five contracts from China and Southeast Asia in a short period of time. Our combined strengths in hydrogen production, and equal commitment to service, will bring significant advantages to our customers.”
Stefan Heuser, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Clariant Catalysts, commented, “We are extremely pleased with the results of our partnership with Shanghai Huaxi at the BHCC hydrogen unit. Our two companies’ perfectly complementary products and processes have demonstrated that they can successfully maximise our customer’s total hydrogen production, while drastically reducing costs.”