PVC expansion at Herøya with new technology and reduced energy consumption
“Here, the new drying plant will be built, to a height of 30 metres,” say Jon Atle Semb and Siw-Christin Kaggerud. The plant will feature heat recovery, as the project's largest single investment. From the drying plant there will be a pedestrian bridge over to the existing factory.
INOVYN’s PVC factory at Herøya is working to increase production of what is called paste PVC by 45%. The expansion will give new technology with reduced energy consumption, a technology which is unique to the PVC factory at Herøya.
Siw-Christin Kaggerud, civil engineer and project manager, is working closely with colleagues and the contractor Wood (formerly Agility) to complete the basic engineering. Before the summer holidays, INOVYN’s management must say yes or no to continuing the project, for a price of around NOK 100 million.
“We’ve had some positive signals, so we're confident that we’ll get the green light to start up the detailed project design,” says an optimistic Siw-Christin Kaggerud.
She describes how basic engineering must include a cost estimate of plus/minus 10%. In principle, a decision to continue with the detailed project design is a yes to achieving the project. The plan is to start up the new plant in Q1 2020.
“Paste PVC, also called specialities, are a high-margin product that is less cyclically sensitive than S-PVC. The market situation is favourable, which gives us confidence that our owners wish to invest in increased production,” says Kaggerud.
Today, the PVC factory annually produces 200,000 tonnes of PVC. This production comprises 160,000 tonnes of S-PVC powder used for hard and flexible products such as pipes, cables and profiles, and 40,000 tonnes of paste PVC that is more finely grained and used for softer products such as floor covering, wallpaper, blinds, etc.
From eight to four
The expansion project entails many new elements in the process, marked in dark blue on the picture behind Siw-Christin Kaggerud.
Production of PVC takes place in an autoclave, a closed vessel. Here, polymerisation takes place, whereby small molecules bind together into larger molecules, in a chemical process. Today, this process takes eight hours.
The expansion project aims to halve the polymerisation time to four hours, to give increased capacity and more product.
“This is where the benefit lies, and we’ll achieve this by eliminating bottlenecks,” says Siw-Christin.
The largest single investment in the project is a new drying plant, which will be 30 metres high, with a footprint of 20 x 14 metres. The plant will be built for heat recovery.
“We’ve run a little recovery pilot project on the old drying plant, which worked well. We’ll be implementing large-scale recovery in the new drying plant, as the only factory to do so in the Inovyn family,” says Siw-Christin Kaggerud.
The old drying plant will be “mothballed” and can be reused if a new autoclave is to be built at the factory, at a later date.
But before the PVC goes on to the drying plant, a new filtering unit must remove some of the water. “This means that we can run the drying process with lower energy consumption, besides recovering energy from the plant,” she says.
This filtration is used in e.g. the dairy industry, but Kaggerud is not aware of its use in PVC factories. In this case, too, Porsgrunn is taking the lead.
PVC is mainly used for products with a long lifetime, not packaging and plastic bags. The boat fender and running shoe in the picture are made from paste PVC. “We're naturally aware of the current plastic waste discussion, and are working to exert influence. Among other things, INOVYN has invested in the recirculation industry,” says Kaggerud.
She describes fun and exciting working days, and a steep learning curve from the start of the project.
“By collaborating with various professional disciplines, operations, the other PVC factories, INOVYN’s central research environment, and the environment at Rafnes, we're developing some good new solutions. Once the project is completed, it will to a high degree be based on proprietary design and our own knowledge,” she emphasises.
Kaggerud x 2
It is not only at Herøya that the Kaggerud name is heading an expansion project. Siw-Christin’s husband, Torbjørn Kaggerud, is heading the major VCM project at Rafnes, to be completed at the beginning of 2020.
VCM is the raw material for PVC, and expanding Rafnes will make it possible to increase production at Herøya.
“The Rafnes project is waiting for us, and funds have already been granted. Obviously, it's very useful to be able to draw on each other's expertise,” says Siw-Christin.
“Are the expansion projects also a topic for discussion at mealtimes?”
“No, the children set the agenda then,” she laughs, describing how the people at INOVYN always thought that Kaggerud was a very common Norwegian name.
“My parents in law were also employed in petrochemicals, so we were four Kaggeruds. No wonder they were confused!”
Åse Himle and Ole Bjørn Ulsnæs (photo) <ase.himleSPAMFILTER@hipark.no>