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Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-08-31

IMPROOF aims at drastically improving the energy efficiency of the radiation section of a steam cracking furnace by at least 20%, and this in a cost effective way, while simultaneously reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and NOX per ton ethylene produced with at least 25%. Steam cracking is the most energy-consuming process in the chemical industry and globally uses approximately 8% of the sector’s total primary energy. Improving the energy efficiency has an immediate pay-out because energy cost counts for approximately 70% of the net production costs in typical ethane- or naphtha-based olefin plants.

One of the most important ways to reduce the energy input in steam cracking furnaces per ton ethylene produced is to reduce coke formation on the reactor wall of the long tubular reactors that are mounted in these furnaces. The use of either advanced coil materials, combined with 3D reactor designs, improved process control, and more uniform heat transfer increases run lengths, reducing simultaneously CO2 emissions and the lifetime of the furnaces. Application of high emissivity coatings on the external surface of the radiant coils could further improve the energy consumption. IMPROOF will demonstrate the advantage of combining all these technological innovations, with an anticipated increase of the time on stream with a factor 3.

In the frame of IMPROOF, the strategic objectives are:
Energy consumption
o High emissivity coatings emitting in the non-absorbent flue gas spectrum (reduction of 10% radiative losses compared to state of the art)
o Enhanced heat transfer between flue gas and the process (reduction of 3% compare to state of the art) by 3D coils
o Novel radiant coil alumina forming alloy tubes that lower the coking rate leading to a lower outside tube temperature (reduction of 3% compared to state of the art)
o Novel integrated process design for the improof furnace (reduction of 15% of fuel consumption)
Operating costs
o Increase production rates per ton olefins produced by increasing furnace combustion efficiency and by advanced process simulation (reduction of 10%)
o Increase production rates per ton olefins produced by selectivity increase using 3D reactor technology (reduction of 5%)
o Increase furnace availability and production rates per ton olefins produced because of reduced coke formation using advanced materials and 3D coil design (reduction of 3.5%)
Reduce CAPEX and OPEX costs of the furnaces by at least 15%.
o Double refractory life, increase process tube life and decrease furnace downtime
o OPEX: 88 % is related to feed cost, which stresses the need for advanced optimization programs
Reduction of NOX and CO emissions by at least 25%
o Decrease NOX and CO emissions by considering new burner designs, and oxy-fuel combustion (reduction of 30% and more)
o Decrease net CO2 emission by using bio-gas and bio-oil as fuel (reduction of 10% and more).
IMPROOF project is entering its last year. The consortium members are all working intensively on the deliverables of each work package.
As for WP1, CNRS has carried out extensive experimentation collecting experimental data on biogas, bio-oil and natural gas (1.1). POLIMI has performed a literature study, updating their reaction mechanism for different types of combustion (1.2). A deliverable has been submitted in this respect. POLIMI and UGENT characterized experimentally the composition of the renewable fuels that will be used within this project. This characterization allowed for the selection of surrogate mixtures of a limited number of reference species, whose combustion kinetics are currently being experimentally and theoretically investigated (1.3). Papers are being written about the performed experiments and modelling.
JZHC has completed the pilot plant experiments for oxy-fuel combustion (2.1). UGENT has completed the coking experiments on the materials provided by S+C (2.2). In collaboration with S+C and CRESS initial spectral emissivity experiments have been performed by UGENT (2.3).
The hot flow pilot plant experiments are more than halfway through the first phase where different coil geometries and materials have been tested (2.4). Improved coatings should provide higher fuel reduction values and will be tested in the coming months
A CFD framework has been constructed by CERFACS in collaboration with UGENT, this numerical approach will be able to perform high-fidelity large eddy simulation (LES) inside the reactor properly accounting for turbulence and complex chemistry (3.1). CERFACS and UGENT are working on the full simulation of the DOW furnaces and the first results have been used to select the geometries that will be demonstrated at DOW (3.2) the precise geometry of the JZHC test furnace has also been shared and meshes have been created, first simulation results of UGENT are encouraging (3.3). Simulations showed that the current numerical schemes need modifications (3.4).
DOW has selected a CUP furnace at their Terneuzen site (the Netherlands) to demonstrate the technologies developed in the IMPROOF project and has provided the partners the necessary geometric information and operation conditions (4.1). DOW has proposed different ways to apply the selected technology from TRL5 (4.2) and has made a decision on the technologies to be tested (4.3). DOW will be starting up the unit in November 2019 (4.4). Technip has performed a technology scale up impact analysis including cost scenarios for TRL6 plant to TRL9, a report has been shared about the findings (4.5). A patent has been filled by Technip on this topic. AYMING conducted the Innovation Management Internal Benchmark (4.6) and is working on the identification of the Key Exploitation Results/ risk assessment (4.6) and on the IP watch (4.7). Demonstration is progressing properly.
AVGI has finished the evaluation of the current state of the art by (5.1) which is required for their future evaluation of all expected benefits (5.2). AVGI has completed the first phase LCA assessment (5.3) and the final evaluation of the whole integrated process only needs the data from WP4 (5.4).
As the responsible partner for the external communication, CERFACS has created and is updating the IMPROOF project logo and website (6.1). The workshop is set in January 27 and 28 in Ghent (6.2) and AYMING has organised with the EC and sister projects a Common Dissemination Booster on the stakeholder mobilization (6.3).
IMPROOF project is operative for three years, and the first societal implications of the project are being realized. More and more companies are understanding the power of advanced 3D geometries which boosts production, reduces CO2 and NOx emissions and creates new investments. At the same time the process industry is looking into/embracing combinations of novel technologies such as high emissivity coatings of refractories in combination with coated reactors. This is not only relevant for the studied process but also for other endothermic processes such as in steam reforming or glass production or even electrification.

The results also have been extensively presented at conferences, companies and in bilateral meetings with academicians and industrial actors. This has boosted interest for the project but also for the technology. The project is very visible in the olefin industry with numerous requests for presentations at companies not being partners of the project.
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