26 July 2016 - 12:07
  • News Code: 265753
German Firm Ready to Serve Iran Petchem Sector

TEHRAN, July 26 (Shana) -- The German company Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz GmbH (CAC) has expressed its willingness to transfer technology to Iran to serve Iran's petrochemical sector.

Mario Kuschel, head of Process Engineering bei Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz GmbH, told Iran Petroleum that Iranian petrochemical companies have shown interest in the CAC technology, too.
The following is the full text of the interview conducted with Kuschel on the sidelines of Iran Oil Show in Tehran. 

Q: Would you please tell us about the field of activity of your company?
A: So starting point because you already have so many methanol plants, we thought no need for our family-owned company to invest in something which is already available on the market and the current capacity of production of methanol is  five million tons per year as far as I am informed, you know better than I, more than  one third of it is exported to China and China is not consuming more than the amount that they consumed in the past and as far as I know 15 million tons capacity of methanol is still on schedule to be a finished plant so that will certainly put a lot of pressure on the methanol producers to find buyers for this methanol. 
The big hope was of course the conversion of methanol to olefins like propylene but we discovered that based on the activities of steam crackers being built globally to a large broad scale ,within the next years I think we will have one million ton of olefin  and ethylene capacity in India, we will also have another million ton capacity of ethylene and propylene as I think 6,000 tons exists, so these major steam crackers we will have cheap olefins available so we consider methanol to olefins not to be a very viable output to methanol plants because the price of propylene already is depressed and with increasing capacities and stagnant demand I doubt that these prices will rise. 
That is why we think of converting methanol to gasoline, gasoline prices are rising already again. I think that delta of the current methanol price versus the rising price of gasoline will make this technology very attractive. 
So you can make use of this scheme that is all public information. This scheme shows roughly how everything works. So here we have the raw methanol from your methanol plants, it doesn’t even have to be distilled.  Methanol forms about 46 percent of water which can be re-used in the synthetic gas because most of your methanol originates from crude oil gases so you need water again. So we would liberate the water for this process and the reactor here allows stirring the composition of what you obtain. So if the methanol plant wants to produce a bigger amount of LPG, they keep the residence time short and the temperature low. If they want to have a precursor like maleic anhydride equivalent, one to four, five tetra-methyl benzene, they keep the residence time up and temperatures high and this determines the quantity of these two. So there is no such tool in the world as this reactor which enables you to control what you obtain as a product. No refinery can do that.
The important advantage of this can be observed in the table wherein you see the composition of premium gasoline and its comparison with the European standard. As I have mentioned and you can see density is identical but there are differences in olefins and that is what has made it attractive for the army which needs to have enough reserves. This compound of olefin makes gasoline age. So after one or two years, gasoline which has been exposed to oxygen is no longer performing properly in the engine. So the army regularly has to replace the gasoline in its storage facilities but not with this gasoline because it has up to 18 percent olefin, so this can lead to some problems.
We can also control the aromatic compounds and that is another big advantage. So this type of gasoline has different advantages and now we are in discussion with different European refineries that are eager to use this as a blending additive because they can reduce the aromatic content, they can increase the life, the shelf time of the product, so that is a big advantage and this is all based on this reactor being able to be controlled. 

Q: Have you developed this technology? 
A: Yes, the reactor is all state of the art but the technology is our patented technology. Here we had to make sample - 250,000 tons of gasoline - this is the quantity and the mass balance for those who are a bit more interested in technology but I think that is the most interesting part. 
Volkswagen has tested this gasoline, and we are a Volkswagen daughter company. They have tested this gasoline in 1.4 liter series engine and you can see on these two drafts there is the blue dots which is the gasoline from our plant and the red one is the gasoline which was from the European gasoline station  the same as what you buy ,and you can see here that this is the rotational number of the engine, so typically in the city you drive at 2,000 - 3,000 rpms and you see that the pressure at the piston in the engine in both cases is identical, and there is hardly any difference visible.
And the same is true for the ignition angle. So it will not ignite any earlier or any later in the combustion chamber so it will perform exactly the same and also the same is true for the efficient consumption of this gasoline, is identical until 4,000 rpms.  
Because this is typically for the racing cars, they start at 4,000 - 5,000 rpms.  So racing cars, they would complain that their consumption is rather higher but standard consumers; they do not have any difference at all. That is almost all the secrets. 

Q: It’s good, it’s amazing!
A: Yes and I think that is a very good technology to cope with the pollution problems of all the cars driving through megacities. 

Q: I think that converting methanol to propylene is the best thing we can do, but now you said we can also convert methanol to another product.
A: Exactly. This is a competitive process from Exxon Mobil; they do not have this tool to fine tune. This is unique for our process that we can really look what is required to reduce the particular matter in order to have a more healthy environment, as well. 

Q: Do you have any plans to find a partner in Iran and work with Iranian companies?
A: Well to my understanding the interest from the big methanol producers whether it is Zagros, Lavan ,Kaveh, or Mayan; now all these producers are desperately looking for an outlet. 
As an engineering company, we are not into investment. It is not also our purpose because we cannot become competitors to our customers. If we started to produce methanol as a supplier, as a vendor of such plant, nobody would buy from us anymore. So we cannot invest, rather we can offer the technology, we will sell it to anyone who is interested and what we can try to do, and we just got a good message from the German government that there is obviously some agreement about this issue, and it has been agreed that the history can be put aside and financing shall become possible in the near future, we can support this financing. A certain share must come from the Iranian partner and about up to 85 percent is secured by the German government for export. These are roundabout figures. 

Q: You mentioned that you have already talked with some Iranian methanol producers such as Kaveh, Lavan, etc; have these talks been held before or after the lifting of international sanctions on Iran?
A: This technology is brand new so we have to introduce it to our customers and tell them where it is in operation. I think there is no doubt that we can export this technology and we will do that. 

Q: Do you have any plans for cooperation in other sectors of oil and gas industry?
A: Yes, we do. It was just a few days ago that we had a discussion with the petrochemical company. It is premature to go into details but we have cooperation with a German company who issues a license, and is requiring the product which they want to license and probably they would also have a share in the investment and I can tell you more in this regard, once we are further in discussion but it is a plan which was supplied in the 1980s, and since then nothing has happened. It sustained out own company and the embargo has led to a situation that the economics of this plan is put under question. However, the idea is now with the German licenser. They have developed this technology further. They have actually the same plan designed three- fold the capacity and they have they have plans which are five percent higher than what is actually operated, so in such constellation I think we can significantly improve the performance of this particular plant. 

Q: Since last year a large number of German companies have visited Iran and even your ministers have led delegations to Iran. Most of them have voiced willingness for investment in Iran’s petrochemical sector. What do you think of that?
A: Well, you have very qualified engineers in the country and I think we must all work together because you are in need of investment; you have been in need of rejuvenation of industry for the last ten years. This needs to be worked out as quickly as possible so I think it is an opportunity for everyone, it is a win-win situation for everyone that we can take a share to bring a new technology such as this methanol to fuel. We can also support with this license which was developed further with new generation of catalysts, so all these measures can be taken and we cannot do it all by our own, you cannot do it all by your own. I think it is a great opportunity also to support this long-lasting friendship between the countries.
My father had assistants in the university which were from Iran whom I liked very much so I think we can take that up again. 

Q: So do you think that the petrochemical industry provides a good opportunity for Europe, especially Germany to invest in? 
A: I would not discriminate anyone. So, yes it is a great opportunity. We should not lose each other. I feel so welcomed here in Iran, so I appreciate very much and I think that is a good start, a good basis.  

Q: And in general, what do you think of Iran Oil Show?
A: Facing all the challenges, I have discussed with the German exhibitors and I heard from my colleagues what was happening the years before, the run of all potential suppliers on this exhibition is enormous. It was very difficult to cope with all the demands. We wanted a booth, they all wanted a booth and there was a lot of improvisation and if I look at it now, everything is different, the infrastructure is not there, what shall we do, but there were so many helpful hands here and that is what I meant, helpful hands, if we work together we get it resolved. So that is the impression I have.
So all the German booths originally in the last year were all in one place like Italian pavilion, like Spanish pavilion, this year they are all scheduled to be concentrated and typically there was an infrastructure. It is all lost but it does not harm. As long as you have helpful hands so now I see this will form basis of cooperation and I think that is great. 

Q: As you know in the post-sanctions era, major European firms from Spain, the Netherlands and France have shown interest in Iran’s projects. How can you compete with other European companies in Iran’s market? 
A: I do not have any big doubt because it was the philosophy of CAC not only to provide engineered pipes but to develop technology. And we have always had very good relationship with a technical university with whom we developed this methanol to fuel process for instance, and also with the Russian process technologists, they have excellent technology available and this international cooperation supports us. So, I do not see that competition. If we see a good idea in France, we will also pick it up. 
As an engineering contractor we have to look around where is the best potential technology available and I do not make any difference whether it comes from Germany, France or Spain. I tried to realize and put into our plans the best ideas. Always an idea can help, is the slogan that we have. That is why we look for the best available technology across the world we can take to the advantage of our customers. So I think it is great that we can choose all the European suppliers specialties from the neighboring countries – the French, the Dutch, and German, that’s all.  

Q: How do you compare this year’s exhibition with those held in previous years?
A: This is the first time that I am here, but I think our company took part in this exhibition in 2005 for the first time and the feedback from my colleagues was very good and they met many people and after the exhibition we kept in touch with those people and clients in Iran and also some projects came from the exhibition. 

Q: Have you implemented any projects in Iran since 2005?
A: One was this project which we finished in 2009; it was for Aban petrochemical company. We are also in contact with Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI).

Courtesy of Iran Petoleum

News Code 265753

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