From May through July, a Sulzer GTC-licensed sulfolane production unit began successful operations in Saudi Arabia. The technology, GT-Sulfolane℠, was licensed in 2012 to Addar Group-Arab House for Industrial Consultancy (Addar), a company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This grassroots unit was built in Jubail Industry City, KSA, and will produce sulfolane from sulfur dioxide (SO2), butadiene and hydrogen. Conformity of the unit with the design and its layout was inspected by Praveen Chaudhary, Senior Engineer, Instrumentation and IT, and Umesh Goel, Consultant, both from Sulzer GTC India, in May and June 2018.
GT‑Sulfolane℠ is unique in having an unconventional flow scheme that involves both batch and continuous unit operations. This feature is different from other conventional Sulzer GTC technologies that utilize mostly continuous flow schemes. The first design and start-up of the unit was accomplished by a Sulzer GTC team, consisting of Joseph Chiu, Senior Project Manager, Houston office; Ashutosh Negi, Technical Services Advisor; Himanshu Mishra, Deputy Manager, Technology and Engineering; and Alok Saxena, Managing Director (all from Sulzer GTC India) and that overcame various operational challenges. Support from Dr. Ajay Bhatnagar, Consultant, Sulzer GTC India, and Bryant Slimp, Manager-Business Development, Sulzer GTC Houston, to resolve intricacies of involved chemistry, during the critical start-up phase was remarkable, along with the support and cooperation from the Addar team.
With the unit fully operational, the first sulfolane product was obtained on August 9. Once in-house hydrogen production is operational at Addar, sulfolane production will be achieved at design capacity.