AFPM '13: CP Chem alpha-olefins expansion help meet hexene demand

25 March 2013 17:02 Source:ICIS News

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--US-based Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) is expanding normal alpha olefins capacity to help meet rising demand for 1-hexene, along with other fractions within the family, an executive said on Monday.

CP Chem plans to expand normal alpha olefins capacity by at least 20% at its Cedar Bayou complex in Baytown, Texas.

The expansion will take place in stages, and it should be completed by 2015, said Mitch Eichelberger, general manager of normal alpha olefins and polyalphaolefins for CP Chem.

Eichelberger made his comments at the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), held by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

The expansion will increase production for normal alpha olefins in general, from butene up to much larger molecules, such as polyalphaolefins, Eichelberger said.

However, 1-hexene is among the alpha olefins seeing the highest growth in demand, he said. The monomer is used to make certain types of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE).

CP Chem is already building a new on-purpose 1-hexene plant at the Cedar Bayou complex.

That plant will have a capacity of up to 250,000 tonnes/year, making it the world’s largest plant of its kind. The plant should start operations in the first quarter of 2014.

However, the new plant may not be enough to meet demand for 1-hexene, Eichelberger said.

As a result, the expansion project will allow CP Chem to meet rising 1-hexene demand along with demand for larger normal alpha olefins, he said.

Normal alpha olefins have a large number of uses outside of polyethylene (PE), Eichelberger said. Depending on their size, they are also used to make plasticizers, detergents, synthetic lubricants and waxes, he said.

The AFPM conference lasts through Tuesday.

By Al Greenwood