Cover: Efficient Petrochemical Processes by Frank (Xin X.) Zhu, James A. Johnson, David W. Ablin, and Gregory A. Ernst

Efficient Petrochemical Processes

Technology, Design and Operation



Frank (Xin X.) Zhu, James A. Johnson, David W. Ablin, and Gregory A. Ernst










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This book presents technology, chemistry, selection, process design, and troubleshooting for aromatics production processes which are the source of important petrochemical building blocks. The selection of this topic came from realizing the importance of petrochemicals, and specifically aromatics in today's world. The demand for petrochemical products has increased dramatically in recent years due to rapid growth in emerging markets such as China, Southeast Asia, India, and other regions. Economic growth in these regions has driven the ever‐increasing need for petrochemicals and the downstream products they create. Petrochemicals have enabled the creation of advanced materials and products in other related industrial sectors including apparel, packaging, consumer goods, automotive products, electronics, detergents, medical devices, agriculture, communication, and transportation. For example, in the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the latest modern aircraft to be launched, modern synthetic materials comprise about half of its primary structure. In addition, most of the tools on which we depend for daily existence – such as cars, computers, cell phones, children's toys, fertilizers, pesticides, household cleaning products, and pharmaceutical drugs – are derived from petrochemicals. Therefore, petrochemical products, which are chemical products made from fossil fuels such as petroleum (crude oil), coal, and natural gas, are the foundation of nearly every sector of the world's economy.

Although there has been an increased emphasis on petrochemical technology and products, there are no dedicated books available to discuss technology selection, efficient process design, and reliable operation for petrochemical processes. Thus, this book is written to fill this gap with the focus on aromatics technology, which are arguably the most important building blocks in the area of petrochemicals.

Brief Overview of the Book

The book contains five parts with 18 chapters in total are provided. The first part provides an overview of the petrochemical processes including the typical feeds, products, and technology. The book starts by introducing the topic of petrochemicals in Chapter 1, giving a market and technology overview in Chapter 2, and providing an aromatic process description in Chapter 3. The lens is then zoomed onto more specific aspects such as process design in Part II, equipment assessment in Part III, and process integration and system optimization in Part IV. Last but not the least, Part V deals with operation in which operation guidelines are provided and troubleshooting cases are discussed.

The Audience

This book is written with the following people in mind: plant managers, process engineers, and operators working in process industries, and engineering firms who face challenges and wish to find opportunities for improved process operation and design. The book will provide practical methods and tools to industrial practitioners with the focus on improving aromatics plant energy efficiency, reducing capital investment, and optimizing yields via better design, operation, and optimization. These methods have been proven with successful applications in many aromatics plants over many years, which contributes to the improvements of environmental performance and reduction of foot print from petrochemical production.

In addition, this book may be valuable to engineering students with the design projects, chemistry students for the context and application of chemistry theory, and to those who want to equip themselves with real‐world applications and practical methods which will allow them to become more employable after graduation. The contents of this book are based on the knowledge and experience the authors gained over many years in research, engineering, consulting, and service support for petrochemical processes. The authors hope that this book is able to convey concepts, theories, and methods in a straightforward and practical manner.


Clearly, it was no small effort to write this book; but it was the authors' desire to provide practical methods for helping people understand the issues involved in improving design and operation for better energy efficiency and lower capital cost which motivated us. In this endeavor, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to many of our colleagues at Honeywell UOP and Honeywell for their generous support in this effort. First of all, we would like to thank Kelly Seibert, vice president and general manager of Honeywell UOP, who provided strong encouragement at the beginning of this journey for writing this book. We are very grateful to many colleagues for their constructive suggestions and comments on the materials contained in this book. We would especially like to thank UOP process technology specialist and engineering Fellow Jason Corradi for his valuable comments for Chapters 11 and 12, former UOP fractionation specialist Paul Steacy for his writing contribution to Chapter 15, Dr. Seok Hong of Illinois Institute of Technology for his review with constructive comments for Chapter 16, and Simmi Sood for her assistance in collecting data for some of the calculations.

We also like to thank the following people who made critical review: Phil Daily for Chapter 7, Darren Le Geyt for Chapter 8, Bruce Lieberthal for Chapters 9 and 10, Rajesh Rajappan for Chapter 13, and Joe Haas for Chapter 15. Our sincere gratitude also goes to Kevin O'Neil, Mark James, and Ashley Romano for their reviews. Specially, Kevin O'Neil provided a thorough review of the full text with constructive comments. However, any deficiencies in this book are the authors' responsibility and we would like to point out that this book reflects our own opinions but not those of Honeywell UOP.

Finally, we would like to thank the co‐publishers, AIChE and John Wiley, for their help. Special thanks go to Cindy (Cynthia) Mascone and Kate McKay at AIChE and Michael Leventhal at John Wiley for guidance as well as Vishnu Priya at John Wiley for managing the copyediting and typesetting.

12 August 2019

Frank Zhu, Jim Johnson, Dave Ablin, Greg Ernst

Des Plaines, Illinois, USA

Part I
Market, Design and Technology Overview