KBR's SUPERFLEX™ technology provides a unique method for propylene plants to convert low-value olefinic streams, such as mixed butenes, pentenes, FCC light gasoline and coker naphtha, to valuable propylene and ethylene products. Petrochemicals feeds for SUPERFLEX can be sourced from nearly any cracking process, steam cracking or various refinery cracking processes. This technology can be used for stand-alone petrochemical production units or integrated into existing olefins plants. The first commercial SUPERFLEX unit, started up in 2006, at Sasol in the Republic of South Africa converts a highly olefinic C6/C7 stream to propylene and ethylene, with a propylene production capacity of approximately 250 kta. JiHua is the second SUPERFLEX licensee, located in Jilin City, Peoples Republic of China. This unit, when commissioned, will have a design capacity of 200 kta of propylene production from C4/C5 feed.
SUPERFLEX catalytic olefins process is a fluid catalytic cracking (or FCC) type process, which utilizes process hardware very similar to that seen in a traditional refinery FCC unit. SUPERFLEX uses olefinic feeds and produces 50-60% total olefins with typical Propylene to Ethylene (P/E) ratio of about 2:1. While the total olefins yield is similar to traditional steam cracking, SUPERFLEX provides much higher propylene production. Compared to fixed bed catalytic cracker technologies, SUPERFLEX is able to operate at higher temperatures with higher conversion of paraffins and other constituents in the feed. This allows recycle-to-extinction operation and leads to higher ultimate olefin yields and utilization of the available feed without needing to purge un-converted material. Additionally, since the catalyst is continuously regenerated, SUPERFLEX is more forgiving in terms of feed impurities and in general no feed pretreatment is required. This innovative and proven technology provides our clients with the ability to utilize low naphtha prices and other available low cost petrochemicals feedstocks to maximize production of high value propylene and ethylene products and help realize increased flexibility and profitability through more competitive propylene prices.
As SUPERFLEX technology licensor, KBR is a leader in fluid catalytic cracking technology from its participation in the world's first FCC unit built for ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1942. As of 2008 there are 122 KBR-licensed FCC units in operation worldwide. KBR's catalytic olefins offerings build on this extensive design experience to provide processes which produce large quantities of propylene using proven FCC hardware.
Features of KBR's SUPERFLEX Technology
The SUPERFLEX catalytic cracking technology features unique and innovative design aspects to address the fact that the feeds to these units are much lighter than in a traditional refinery FCC. These patented, commercially demonstrated design features include:
The SUPERFLEX process produces both polymer grade ethylene and propylene. Much of the product recovery flow scheme is similar to typical olefins plant recovery sections; however, there are some unique features. For example, there are trace impurities such as nitrogen oxides, oxygen, and other trace impurities by virtue of the FCC-type reactor that must be removed. These and other issues are addressed in the SUPERFLEX process flow scheme, which features all the advantages of KBR's depropanizer-first flow scheme including:
For more information on Superflex™, please visit our KBR Petrochemicals publications.