As North America’s first single site PDH/PP facility, Heartland Polymers is employing the latest technology to produce quality polypropylene for North American customers – and beyond.
The Heartland team is fascinated by the technology and wanted to share an inside look at how the product is made from start to finish.
“Every day I respect the work of our production teams and technical specialists all the more,” says Yonas Kebede, director of sales and marketing. “From the engineering and the design to the continued optimization, it’s an incredibly impressive and complex process. Seeing it up close in person has been a career highlight.”
The production of resin at an integrated PDH/PP facility is a highly specialized process requiring precision and expertise. For Heartland, it all begins when locally sourced propane is fed into the propane dehydrogenation facility. The propane is first treated and purified through the feed treatment system. From there, the purified propane moves through the hot pass in the separation system where it is changed from a liquid to a gas.
Next, the propane heads to the reaction section where a high temperature catalyst compresses and separates hydrogen atoms from propane molecules, leaving polypropylene’s main ingredient, propylene. The highly compressed propylene still in gas form is propelled to the cold box where the processed stream goes from gas back to liquid. The propylene enters the PP splitter where it is further separated and purified, leaving us with polymer grade propylene.
The propylene is then sent to the polypropylene facility where it goes through polymerization. This process encourages propylene molecules to bond by the thousands creating polypropylene.
Any unreacted molecules are recovered and then recycled for reprocessing – increasing efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint.
The last step is to process the polypropylene with additives to meet end use applications. This refinement takes place in a component similar to a large conveying screw that forces polypropylene through the underwater pelletizer where it’s cut into circular pellets, our final product.