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                             IHS MARKIT CHEMICAL WEEK

EPCA 53rd Annual Meeting Special Issue
The next chapter of the european petrochemical industry

Integration, feedstock optimization are key success factors for Europe


The interface between feedstocks and basic petrochemicals plays a fundamental role in Europe’s petrochemical industry. Optimizing the sources and uses of feedstock will help determine the industry’s success going forward.

“BASF’s Ludwigshafen site is the cradle of the Verbund idea,” says Mr Michels. “It was here that the idea was conceived and continuously further developed. Of all six BASF Verbund sites worldwide, Ludwigshafen is the largest, followed by BASF’s Antwerp site. Production facilities, energy flow, logistics, and infrastructure are networked together intelligently in the Verbund. In this system, chemical processes can run in a resource-efficient way with lower energy consumption and higher yields.”

The Ludwigshafen site’s two steam crackers, as well as its synthesis gas plant and acrylic acid plants are core elements of the Verbund. “They are the beginning of innumerable value chains and their products are further processed into thousands of commercial products through further process steps,” Hartwig Michels says. “Nothing is wasted in the process: The by-products and waste streams of one facility serve another as a valuable input material. For example, the heat generated in the acrylic acid plants is converted directly into steam on site. The steam is fed into the Verbund and is available to other plants as an energy source.” The two acrylic acid plants cover approximately 10% of the site’s steam demand. 

Another example is the Ludwigshafen site’s carbon dioxide (CO2) plant. “CO2 resulting from ammonia production is purified, liquefied, and filled there and then sold to the beverage industry for use in carbonated beverages,” Mr Michels says. “In this way, a by-product is turned into a sales product.”