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CASE STORY

Waste gases from formaldehyde production plants


CATOX units at Saudi Formaldehyde Chemical Co., Ltd.

The major environmental impact of formaldehyde and VOCs in general is their contribution to the formation of ozone in the troposphere. Excess levels of ozone in the troposphere may impair human health and damage vegetation, crops and even fabrics. Solution At Saudi Formaldehyde Chemical Co., Ltd the formaldehyde plants are designed by Haldor Topse. The off gases from the formaldehyde plants are led to integrated catalytic incineration units. Here the off-gas is preheated to 250C by heat exchange with surplus energy from the formaldehyde process, before it is purified in the catalytic reactor and emitted to the atmosphere. Clean gas The purification process results in a formaldehyde emission below 5 mg/Nm, while CO emissions are lowered to less than 20 mg/Nm. As the purification is done at temperatures below 600C, the purification takes place without formation of NOX. Comments The high concentrations of combustibles in the off-gas from a formaldehyde plant (around 2 vol %) result in a temperature increase above 200C when purified. The preheating could just as well take place by heat exchange with the hot cleaned off-gas in a shell and tube heat exchanger, as it is seen at other formaldehyde plants. CATOX is the most widely used catalytic incinerator type and suitable for air with medium to high, or varying, concentrations of VOCs. Autothermal operation can usually be obtained at VOC concentrations above 2-3 g/Nm. A CATOX unit can be designed for any waste gas flow. EU legislation In the European Union, catalytic oxidation has been classified as the Best Available Technology (BAT) for formaldehyde off-gas. The BAT classification has been carried out according to Article 16(2) of European Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control.

Preface Formaldehyde is an important industrial intermediate used for making other chemicals, building materials and household products. It is produced from methanol by catalytic oxidation, either by using excess methanol or excess air. The first process is an oxidative dehydrogenation of methanol with air over a crystalline silver catalyst, whereas in the latter process the formation of formaldehyde is accomplished by direct oxidation of methanol with excess air over a metal oxide. Waste gas from the metal oxide catalyst process is often purified by catalytic combustion. Waste gas The waste gases from Saudi Formaldehyde Chemical Co., Ltd.s total production of about 400 t/day formaldehyde contains around 1.5 vol % CO and a total of 0.5 vol % formaldehyde, methanol and various organic byproducts. Problem Apart from a pungent odour, the human health impacts of formaldehyde and CO are extensive. Especially formaldehyde is classified as a possible human carcinogen, and the acute effects from exposure to formaldehyde can be fatal.

CASE STORY

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Excess process energy

Formaldehyde tail gas

Cleaned gas (<20mg/Nm3 HC)

2 x 1,100 Nm/h CATOX unit P. T. Pupuk Kaltim Bontang, Indonesia, 2000 and 2002 9,300 Nm/h CATOX unit Saudi Formaldehyde Chemical Co., Ltd. Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, 1998 4,800 Nm/h CATOX unit Saudi Formaldehyde Chemical Co., Ltd. Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, 1996 7,000 Nm/h CATOX unit Nippon Kasei Chemical Co., Ltd. Onahama, Japan, 1995 12,700 Nm/h CATOX unit Neste Resins Oy Hamina, Finland, 1995 2 x 6,000 Nm/h CATOX unit Moravsk Chemick Zavody a.s. Ostrava, Czech Republic, 1993 and 1994

References

2 x 2,500 Nm/h CATOX unit Saudi Formaldehyde Chemical Co., Ltd. Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, 1991 and 1993 2,500 Nm/h CATOX unit P. T. Pupuk Kaltim Bontang, Indonesia, 1991 Furthermore, Topse has delivered more than 10 CATOX units to various formaldehyde consuming industries, such as laminating, impregnation, drying and chemical industries.

The CATOX advantage -- selected as Best Available Technology according til EU legislation -- cleaning efficiency: > 99.5% -- no NOX formation -- low or no fuel consumption -- expected unit lifetime: > 20 years -- unit layout customisable -- automatic operation, 24 h/day -- catalyst lifetime: > 30,000 hours of operation -- proven catalyst and equipment -- single point of responsibility: design, engineering, manufacturing, catalyst production and service -- all products based on in-house research and development

Coporate PR 12.2009