South Korea's SK Energy has begun test runs on a steam cracker at its Ulsan complex that utilizes experimental technology, as per Platts. The cracker uses naphtha as the primary raw material, but is also able to use diesel or kerosene as secondary feedstocks.
Besides a wider choice in feedstocks, a special feature of the process is the high ratio of propylene yield compared with ethylene, about 1:1. The majority of naphtha-based steam crackers in Asia typically turn out only about half as much propylene as ethylene. The process is also able to produce 15-20% more olefins, compared with traditional steam crackers. US engineering and construction company KBR has jointly developed the technology called Advanced Catalytic Olefins with SK.
Mechanical completion of the cracker, which is able to produce 20,000 tpa each of ethylene and propylene, was completed in August and feedstock was first fed into the unit on October 25. Yields from the test runs are currently being evaluated. The project will serve as a pilot plant for testing of a new olefins process technology developed by SK and KBR. The cracker will be operational for a year before a decision is made on further investment on a commercial-scale plant using the same technology.