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ICIS GTL Solvents Article FINAL

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ICIS GTL Solvents Article FINAL

  1. 1. 20-26 July 2015 | ICIS Chemical Business | 55 IN ASSOCIATION WITH www.icis.com54 | ICIS Chemical Business | 20-26 July 2015 Shell Chemicals’ Pernis plant: new GTL Solvents made here will use natural-gas-based feedstock produced in Shell’s Pearl GTL plant in Qatar will beacham london Shell Chemicals is bringing GTL-based feedstock from its plant in Qatar to its Pernis site in the Netherlands and aims to make its range of GTL Solvents globally available in 2015 S olvents form an incredibly useful group of chemicals with applica- tions across a wide range of end-use markets, such as cleaning, paints and coatings, crop protection, inks, adhe- sives and sealants, and cosmetics. But along with most other chemical prod- uctstheyfaceanincreasinglycomplexregula- tory framework and growing customer demandsforawiderchoiceofqualityproducts withimprovedenvironmentalperformance. Until now the vast majority of solvents have come from conventional oil-based petrochemical feedstocks. These include chemical solvents such as ketones, alcohols, glycol ethers and acetates, as well as hydro- carbon solvents such as isoparaffins, pen- tanes, aliphatics, aromatics and blends and special boiling point solvents. Howeverarangeofsolventsproduced using a novel route will soon become availablegloballyonacommercialscale,offer- ing unique product and superior environmen- tal performance when compared to conven- tionalpetroleum-derivedsolvents(seebox). This is because they are synthesised from natural gas, a cleaner feedstock, using Gas- To-Liquids (GTL) technology. Consistency of performance is the most important distin- guishing factor between conventional solvents and the GTL Solvent products now offered by Shell. consistent performance The final performance of conventional prod- ucts fluctuates with the quality of the crude oil used to make them. But by the nature of the natural gas feedstock and the GTL process, theGTLSolventproductsaremoreconsistent. Shell has been advancing its GTL technolo- gy for over 40 years. Its Pearl GTL facility in Qatar is currently the largest GTL plant in the world, with capacity to produce 140,000 bbls/ day of GTL products and 120,000 bbls/day of mental performance – something which cus- tomers are always seeking. He highlights key markets such as consum- er goods, mobility, mining, drilling, agro- chemicals and construction, where GTL Solvents can offer advantages. “End-users and customers are becoming more sensitive to environmental performance. We want to support our customers’ growth with competitive products that also improve environmental performance,” he explains. He points out that regulatory agencies globally have encouraged industry bodies towards the cleanest possible solvents and he sees GTL Solvents as a significant step in the journey towards that aspiration. superior qualities Sriram Musunuri, global marketing manager for Shell Chemicals Solvents, says Shell GTL Solvents are practically free of sulphur and very low in other impurities such as aromatics or olefins. Because of their superior qualities and lower environmental footprint, “GTL Solvents can help our customers meet growing demand while meeting regulatory require- ments,” he says. Headds:“GTLSolventswillimpactoureve- ryday lives more than we think. As they are readily biodegradable, there is no need to trade off growth against environmental impact and sustainability – we can have both.” The new solvents will offer advantages to many downstream sectors, says Musunuri, citing the example of printing inks for pack- aging, where GTL Solvents can offer improved biodegradability and performance improvements compared to conventional petroleum-based products. This market segment is fast-growing compared with newsprint, which is in long-term decline. “We are shifting to a more premium port- folio following the trend away from high aromatic/low flashpoint solvents. Customers want to meet the latest envi- ronmental standards and need more sustainable solutions as well as per- formance improvement.” In fact, GTL Solvents should offer specific advantages to many applica- tions, adds Shell Chem- icals Solvents glob- al business development manager, Monica Karamagi. In paints and coatings, for example, lighter GTL Solvents are low-odour and improve levelling and spreadability when compared with conventional products. These are all characteristics desired by formulators, in addition to the possible advantages of lower volatile organic compound (VOC) content and lower solvent usage. “We urge formulators to test GTL Solvents,” she says, adding that they are already being tested for more than 20 appli- cations. In the Philippines, for example, heavier GTL Solvents are being tested in crop protection products where the solvent remains on the crop to become a barrier against insects and reduce leaf damage. “Another exciting area is crop protection sprays where GTL Solvents’ low odour has a potential benefit because less fragrance is re- quired to mask hydrocarbon smells,” she adds. Inmetalworkingandotherapplicationswith workerexposure,thereisgooddemandbecause of reduced odour, higher flashpoint, and lower viscositycomparedtoconventionalsolvents. Karamagi adds: “These products will be available across the globe with uniform speci- fications. This will be valued by large, multi- national customers.” Geoff Stamper, marketing channels manager for Shell Chemicals Solvents, explains the key to success now for the company’s GTL Sol- vents is market development activity by Shell distributors to open up new applications. Around half of the Shell solvents business is currently handled via distribution channels. Stamper says growth is faster through distri- bution channels than via direct sales, and Shell wants to harness that potential. “Distributors canprovideblendingandsophisticatedservice offerings.Thebiggerdistributorsarealsogetting into an application focus with, for example, coatingsandpharmaceuticals.” distribution channel Distributors have traditionally been used by chemical producers as a way of reaching large numbers of smaller customers. For Shell the distribution channel also allows it to signifi- cantly reduce the complexity and costs in its supply chain, allowing the company to focus on its core base of large customers. At the recent Fecc (European Association of Chemical Distributors) conference in Athens there was a debate about whether “big is beautiful” or it is better for a distributor to be small and nimble. Stamper is adamant that big is better for the Shell solvents business. “We want to work with bigger distributors which have key skills as well as a focus on compliance and ethical standards. When a dis- tributor has coverage across a region it is very positive as that is how we run our business.” ■ For more information on the new solvents, go to: Novel GTL Solvents for global markets There is an increasing range of Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) prod- ucts which,based on recent global notifications,have been shown to have favourable envi- ronmental properties. This includes the latest range of GTL Solvents from Shell Chemicals. These have a good pedigree in that they are derived from GTL feedstock, which has been subjected to an extensive array of environmen- tal hazard assessment tests. These confirm that it has a favourable environmental pro- file compared to its petroleum- derived equivalents. This, combined with the fact that GTL feedstock is virtually aromatic- free (<0.02% by mass),makes it the ideal starting product from which to distil solvents. In environmental terms,the so-called PBT (Persistence, Bioaccumulation and Toxicity) properties are used to assess the environmental hazard and ultimately the risk profile of substances. The low levels of aromatics and simplicity of the branching of the GTL Solvents give these advantages over many of their conventionally petroleum-derived counterparts in terms of their PBT profile. For example,based on their structures GTL Solvents are considered to be more biode- gradable than conventional solvents and this has been confirmed in a series of bio- degradation tests. All the GTL Solvent grades are readily bio- degradable in water and stud- ies with the parent substance provide evidence that no com- ponents of these solvents are likely to persist in the soil. In a nutshell GTL Solvents have a more favourable PBT profile than most solvents be- cause they are more biode- gradable and have a similar potential to bio-accumulate. The lighter GTL Solvents are also less toxic than conven- tional (including dearomatised) petroleum-derived solvents. ■ solvent safety Graham Whale senior eco-toxicologist, Shell Health Environmental advantages of Shell’s GTL “End-users and customers are becoming more sensitive to environmental performance. We want to support our customers’ growth...” kalyan ram Madabhushi Global general manager, Solvents, Shell Chemicals GTL Solvents are useful in metalworking and other applications with worker exposure natural gas liquids (NGLs) and ethane. Shell has also been developing and testing the technology as well as putting the infra- structure in place to transport the GTL liquid hydrocarbonsfromQatartoitsPernis,Nether- lands, site for refining into solvents and other products. From this hub it aims to service Europe,theAmericasandAsia. Since late 2014 the company has been pro- ducing and selling small volumes into Europe andAsiaforcustomertesting,withtheAmeri- cas targeted for 2015. Commercial-scale production for GTL Solvents in Pernis is scheduledforlate2015. According to Kalyan Ram Madabhushi, global general manager Solvents for Shell Chemicals,developingarangeofsolventsthat offerreducedenvironmentalimpactandbetter performance when compared to conventional solventsisveryimportanttothecompanyand Shell Chemicals has been investing significant resourcesintoR&Dandproductdevelopment. There is, he says, an oppor- tunity to serve growing mar- kets linked to global mega- trends through innovative offerings that enhance product performance whilst simultaneously improving environ- RexFeatures special report top 100 Chemical DISTRIBUTORS sponsors feature

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