Worldwide carbon monoxide demand is estimated to be growing at about +4% per year. In the petrochemical industry, carbon monoxide is mainly used in the production of acetic acid and polyurethane intermediates.
Air Liquide has just commissioned the world's largest carbon monoxide unit, handing it over to the customer, Saudi International Petrochemicals Company (Sipchem). This new carbon monoxide unit is located on the industrial complex of Jubail City, in eastern Saudi Arabia, near the Arabic Gulf. This project was awarded in 2006 to Air Liquide and Lurgi.
The carbon monoxide unit designed and built by the Engineering and Construction teams of Air Liquide, will have a production capacity of 335,000 tonnes per year. The production of carbon monoxide calls upon the combination of very high temperature technologies (+ 1200°C) as well as very low cryogenic temperature (-190°C). Those two processes are mastered by the Group and will be integrated in this very large unit.
The carbon monoxide produced in the unit will primarily serve as feedstock for the production of acetic acid used for the production of Polyvinyl Acetate, which has applications in water-based paints, adhesives and in the processing of paper and textiles.
François Darchis, Senior Vice-President Air Liquide Group, in charge of R&D, Advanced Technologies and Engineering & Construction, commented: "Building the world's largest carbon monoxide unit is a challenge that we were delighted to take on and we thank Sipchem for their trust. Air Liquide teams are constantly improving technological solutions in order to increase the efficiency and reliability of our units to meet the needs of our customers.
We are particularly proud of this success at Jubail, a major industrial complex. This project reinforces our presence in Saudi Arabia and once again demonstrates the potential that lies in emerging economies, one of the Group's growth drivers."