Production


HMC Polymers' customers derive considerable benefits from latest Research & Development advancements and the integrated know-how in catalysts, processes and products, across the entire spectrum of polypropylene types and grades.

  • cont-head-007.jpg
  • cont-head-006.jpg
  • cont-head-020.jpg
  • cont-head-021.jpg
HMC Polymers' Production Lines

HMC Polymers production facilities are located on the Eastern Seaboard (Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate) of Rayong in Thailand, 200 km south east of Bangkok.

HMC is operating three Polypropylene lines at our 25 hectare plant at Map Ta Phut, Rayong in Thailand. Two lines are utilising the Spheripol process and one line the latest Spherizone process. Together, the three PP plants have an annual production capacity of 810kt.

HMC also operates a Propane Dehydrogenation (PDH) plant (9.4 hectares) in close proximity to produce propylene from propane to service PP production. The annual capacity of the PDH plant is 300,000t.


Process Technologies

For polypropylene production HMC Polymers uses the industry leading and proven LyondellBasell PP process technologies, Spheripol and Spherizone at the Rayong site which produce the entire spectrum of polypropylene types and grades for all manufacturing processes.

In addition, HMC's Propane Dehydrogenation (PDH) plant uses a catalytic dehydrogenation technology to produce propylene from propane using the Oleflex process technology licensed by UOP, which enables the production of high-quality polymer-grade propylene.

Product capability and versatility
Spheripol and Spherizone PP process technologies offer our customers:
  • A wide range of homopolymers, random copolymers and heterophasic impact copolymers, as well as terpolymers for all polypropylene applications
  • Unmatched product quality with minimum property variation due to excellent process stability and catalyst performance

Spheripol

Leading polypropylene technology for the production of homopolymers, random and heterophasic copolymers.

Spheripol is the world's leading technology for the production of polypropylene homopolymers, random and heterophasic copolymers. Currently, 35% of polypropylene output worldwide is manufactured using LyondellBasell’s Spheripol technology.


The Spheripol process is the result of 50 years of continuous improvement in polypropylene technology. However, to truly appreciate the unique capabilities of this technology, it is helpful to understand the evolution of the Polypropylene industry and the breakthroughs that led to the discovery of the Spheripol process.

1960s and 1970s: Polypropylene processes were costly and difficult to operate. With the discovery of second-generation high-yield catalysts, the initial need for catalyst residue removal was overcome but the atactic content was still unacceptably high.

1980s: Third generation, high-yield and high-selectivity catalysts eliminated the need for catalyst and atactic content removal. This further simplified the process and improved product quality.

1982: Spheripol technology was introduced, incorporating breakthroughs in process design with the refinement of gas-phase and bulk polymerization reactors.

Today, the capabilities of the Spheripol process are further enhanced by the current catalyst generation, which has the ability to produce new families of reactor-based products with superior properties. New frontiers in the development of propylene polymers are constantly being explored.

HMC Polymers is applying this latest generation of LyondellBasell's catalysts in its plants.

Spheripol process – Key characteristics
The Spheripol process is a modular technology consisting of 3 main units:
  • Catalyst feeding
  • Polymerisation
  • Finishing section

Common to all polymerisation units is the bulk polymerization section for homo and random copolymers. This bulk polymerisation employs tubular loop reactors filled with liquid propylene, to which the catalyst and hydrogen for molecular weight control is continuously fed. In the case of random copolymers, a comonomer such as ethylene is also added.

The resulting polymer is continuously discharged from the reactor, and any unreacted propylene is recovered and pumped back into the loop reactor.

Spheripol simplified process diagram

The production of impact copolymers also requires a gas phase reactor, which the polymer from the loop reactor is transferred to. In this reactor an elastomer, formed by the polymerisation of ethylene and propylene, is allowed to polymerise with the homopolymer matrix produced in the first reactor.

Spheripol process – Capabilities and product properties
The Spheripol technology produces a complete portfolio for use in the full range of polypropylene applications. Many Spheripol process resins are recognized as industry leading products in many application areas.

Spheripol polypropylene homopolymers range from grades with a fractional melt flow rate for pipe and sheet extrusion applications to very high flow specialty grades for melt blown applications. The comprehensive product portfolio includes a vast number of tailor-made products for a variety of film and fibre applications.

Spheripol polypropylene random copolymers are characterised by excellent optical properties and extremely low catalyst residues. The product portfolio also includes specialty grades for pressure pipe applications and copolymers with very low seal initiation temperatures.

Spheripol polypropylene heterophasic copolymers have outstanding low-temperature impact strength. The product portfolio includes a broad range of grades for specialty applications such as pipes and automotive bumpers, and reactor-grade, high-flow heterophasic copolymers for thin-wall injection molding applications.

Spherizone

Latest-generation polypropylene technology based on a multi-zone reactor that produces high-performance polypropylene and novel polyolefins.

LyondellBasell’s breakthrough Spherizone multi-zone circulating reactor process provides an economical and efficient method of manufacturing a wide range of high-quality polypropylene and novel, propylene-based polyolefinic resins.


The heart of the Spherizone process is the multi-zone circulating reactor (MZCR). The catalyst is continuously fed into the multi-zone circulating reactor. In this specially designed loop-reactor, consisting of two reactor zones, the growing polymeric granules are circulated between the two different zones.

In the so called "riser", the polymer particles are directed upwards in a fast fluidisation regime by the monomer gas flow from a blower. Then, in the top of the reactor, the polymer particles enter the so-called "down-comer". In this section there is a downward dense-phase plug-flow regime under gravity. At the bottom of the reactor, the polymer particles are again fed back into the "riser" section.

The reactor can be operated with different conditions for hydrogen (as the chain transfer agent) and comonomer concentration in the two sections, allowing the development of a bimodal (MFR, comonomer concentration/type) polymer structure at a macro-molecular level. This split between the reaction conditions is achieved by injection of a monomer stream with a different composition than that in the riser section at the barrier between the riser and down-comer sections.

Spherizone simplified process diagram

Spherizone process – Product properties and performance
The versatility of the Spherizone process is demonstrated by the high-quality product range it produces, which includes all standard polypropylene grades as well as unique polyolefin products. The capabilities of the Spherizone process to deliver new performance potential across the entire product portfolio is illustrated by the extended product property graphic below.

Spherizone extended product properties

As a result of the “One-Reactor Cascade” reactor, the operating window of the technology is drastically expanded and the product quality is greatly enhanced, resulting in the production of polypropylene resins that can outperform standard polypropylene grades.

Spherizone process products, for example, have surpassed the performance of conventional polypropylene used in pipe applications, including novel random copolymers with PP-R 125 classification and new high-modulus heterophasic copolymers used in sewage and drainage pipe systems.

Spherizone technology also enables the production of novel polyolefins, which are being used in entirely new applications previously the domain of traditional materials and competitive higher priced plastics.

These Spherizone process polyolefins replace conventional materials used in rigid packaging and other applications where extremely high melt strength is essential.

Propane Dehydrogenation

The new HMC Polymers PDH plant, which began construction in early 2007, started commercial operation in early 2011. The project was completed successfully with a safety record of 12,946,135 man hours without a single lost time injury.


Propane Dehydrogenation (PDH) is a catalytic dehydrogenation technology to produce propylene from propane. The Oleflex process, technology licensed by UOP, enables HMC Polymers to produce high-quality polymer-grade propylene.

There are 3 sections in the UOP Oleflex process:
  • Reactor section
  • Product recovery section
  • Catalyst regeneration section

The reactor section consists of four radial-flow reactors, charge and interstage heaters and the reactor feed-effluent heat exchanger.

In the recovery section the reactor effluent is cooled, compressed, dried, and sent to a cryogenic system to separate hydrogen from hydrocarbon. Separator liquid is sent to a selective hydrogenation unit to eliminate diolefins. Liquid hydrocarbon then goes to a Deethanizer and Propane-propylene (P-P) splitter to produce a polymer-grade propylene product. Unconverted propane is recycled to the reactor section.

The catalyst regeneration section continuously burns off coke and reactivates catalyst during its operation.