Today's new FORMOX formaldehyde plants have as standard a number of features that were optional or non-existent when we began supplying plants. In line with our emphasis on flexibility, and on building the most future-proof plants available anywhere, it is seldom too late to retrofit or even to expand.

1 Emission Control System (ECS)

Our highly effective ECS is standard equipment on all new plants. And since the ECS is relatively easy to retrofit, most of our customers with older plants have added this equipment. Moreover, in most cases our ECS unit can even be retrofitted on HCHO plants of other designs.

Here are some of the advantages of a JM Formox ECS technology:

  • Designed specifically for HCHO / UFC plants and based on our long and unique experience in this field.
  • Eliminates up to 99.95% of the hazardous wastes in the off-gas, thus satisfying the most stringent environmental regulations in the world, and considered Best Available Technology (BAT).
  • Some systems solve one environmental problem by creating another. With the FORMOX™ ECS, there's no formation of Nox and Sox, as the temperature in the catalyst bed is low and no additional burner is required.
  • Thanks to catalytic incineration, which has a far lower operating temperature than thermal incineration, equipment costs are relatively low.
  • The energy content in the waste gas is utilized for heating the incoming gases to ignition temperature, and no additional energy is necessary during normal operation.
  • The additional energy in the waste gases can be used for producing about 100 kg of steam per ton of 37% HCHO, or an equivalent amount of energy for superheating steam. With the utilization of steam in many cases the investment can be motivated on economic terms alone.
  • The investment of a new ECS can be combined with the installation of a turbocharger that allows for pressurized operation at no extra production cost. To be considered for expansion projects or power saving projects.

2 Expansion projects

We believe that the efficiency of our plants and catalysts will contribute to making our customers so successful that they will be able to grow and prosper.

Different routes for increasing capacity:

  • Pressurizing the plant (If pressurized a higher pressure can be considered)
  • Increased process gas flow (some plants)
  • Add second reactor (for plants prepared to be expanded to twin or dual concept)
  • Modified loading profile and work with higher inlet

3 Efficiency projects

Through our development work over the years, JM Formox formaldehyde technology of today, is significantly more effective compared to older version. Many of the findings through the years can be applied to older plants through adjustments or revamps of your current plant.

Different routes for more efficient operation of your plant:

  • Heat recovery
  • Steam utilization
  • Variable production demand
  • Online performance monitoring

3.1 Heat recovery

The FORMOX™ process is a net producer of heat in the form of steam. The amount recovered depends on the methanol inlet concentration (the higher the inlet the more steam) and how the process gas/methanol mixture is heated. It also depends on the required steam pressure, the boiler feed water temperature and ambient conditions.

The simplest and cheapest way to improve heat recovery is always to operate at the highest possible methanol inlet. As less energy is required to heat the gas, more energy is available as steam. Improving above this level depends on the design of the plant.

In certain cases, a turbocharger can be used to recover energy from the stack (exhaust) gas. And as in automotive applications, the simplest way to utilize this energy is to use it to pressurize the inlet air. This application uses a turbocharger same to those used on marine diesel engines. It takes the place of the pressurization blower, as the exhaust turbine is directly coupled to the compressor element. Up to 1/3 of the power consumption in the plant can be saved using a turbocharger.

3.2 Steam utilization

The first point to consider is whether the steam can be exported; as the condensing energy is used, the value is generally higher. For example, the FORMOX™ plants in Sweden sell the steam to the rest of the site. But for many sites, steam is a cost - the cost of condensing to recover BFW. Yet other sites may use steam only intermittently (for example, resin producers), while the rest is blown off or condensed. In other words, no single solution will fit all types of plant; what best suits your site depends on the site steam balance and site requirements in terms of steam, pressure and temperature.

Assuming the steam cannot be exported, the basic options are:

  • use the steam directly, to drive a blower in the plant
  • or indirectly by using the steam to drive a generator and generate electricity.

In both cases superheating the steam (using heat from the ECS) will give a better result. Read more about Steam utilization.

3.3 Variable production demand

On some plants, turndown can be an issue, as lower rates can carry a high cost penalty. Today we design our plants so that they can be operated flexibly over a wide range of conditions with no increase in cost.

CAP (Catalyst Activity Profile), is one of the tools; the other is variable speed control on the blowers. This can easily be retrofitted to your plant. The biggest savings occur in turndown situations, and in some cases part load can result in lower costs.

Speed control on the recycle blowers also makes it possible to fine-tune the process and can extend the life of the catalyst by several weeks - for example, by reducing the rate to overcome a back-pressure limitation.

3.4 Online performance monitoring

The DCS can often be further utilized as a tool for performance follow-up by adding a performance page to the screen where yield and other performance parameters are monitored, on line.  Key performance data can be broken down by shift, day, week and month. By adding prices, the production cost can also be calculated.

The benefits are:

  • Early detection of poor performance.
  • More operator involvement -operators can see the results of a parameter change.
  • Gives a better picture of how to run the process and achieve the lowest cost.

4 Absorber modifications and UFC

Over the years we have gained experience with many different absorber designs. As a result, we have a good idea of what can be achieved in a given situation and what can be done to improve performance. To help achieve productivity gains, or higher formaldehyde concentrations or simply improve control, we can make recommendations on how best to operate your absorber.

JM Formox has a well-proven design of the absorber system suitable for UFC production. Changing to UFC operation in an existing absorber can be done, but the molar ratios in the tower need to be considered for reliable operation. An alternative may be modification of the existing absorber, but often the best solution is to add a separate tower dedicated for UFC production.

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