Sibur-Khimprom's Alphapor Expandable Polystyrene Production Line, Russia

Alphapor EPS is used in building insulation

The second phase of the alphapor expandable polystyrene (EPS) production line at Sibur-Khimprom's plant in Prem, Russia, was officially declared operational in October 2012.

The second phase of expansion began in July 2010 while the test works for the first phase of expansion were still underway.

"The alphapor EPS production plant in Prem was the first of its kind to be built in Russia."

Construction of the first phase began in early 2008 and the facilities came online in November 2010. The construction work on the second phase had been completed by January 2012.

The production capacity of alphapor expandable polystyrene (EPS) has been increased two-fold from 50,000 tons per annum (tpa) to 100,000tpa.

With the launch of the second phase, the company has accomplished the chain required for the production of styrene at the current site. The production chain consists of ethyl-benzene, styrene and expandable polystyrene units.

The total investment on the expansion was about RUB 8.6bn ($286m), including $31m for the second phase.

The engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the expansion project was awarded to Chemistry Chemnitz (CAC). The same contractor was also involved in installing a monitoring system for producing EPS during the first phase. The general design for the plant was provided by VNIPIneft.

Purpose of the chemical plant's expansion

The expansion was undertaken considering the increasing demand for EPS and realising the fact that most of the polymer materials were either imported from other parts of Europe or Asia to Russia.

"Sibur is the largest gas and petrochemicals company in Russia, which owns and operates about 27 production sites."

The alphapor EPS production plant in Prem was the first of its kind to be built in Russia.

The products manufactured by the new line meet the European directives for fire safety, density, grain size distribution and stress-strain properties.

The implementation of polystyrene as a heat-conserving material is expected to increase the efficient use of energy by up to 40% by 2020.

Phase I of the production line expansion

Phase I of the project comprised of adding a new plant for the production of ethyl-benzene, reconstruction of the styrene production plant and construction of a new alphapor EPS production plant by withdrawing the older production line from service.

The ethyl-benzene plant has a capacity of 222,000tpa. The production capacity of the styrene plant grew from 100,000tpa to 135,000tpa. The alphapor EPS production plant had a capacity of 50,000tpa.

The licensing and design for the ethyl-benzene plant was provided by Badger Licensing, while the engineering and installation works were undertaken by TOYO.

Feedstock used to produce styrene

Ethyl-benzene is used as a feedstock in the production of styrene. The ethyl-benzene and styrene plants again supply the feedstock for the production of EPS.

The alphapor EPS is used in building insulation, retained formwork, fire-resistant packaging for household appliances and food products, as well as for decorative elements. The EPS used for thermal insulation comes with flame retardants.

Producing ethyl-benzene

The production of ethyl-benzene at the Prem site implements technologies based on zeolite catalysts which are capable of avoiding hydrogen chloride and redolent hydrocarbons from being released into the atmosphere. It is also capable avoiding the wastewater to be further polluted by chlorides, aluminium salts and phenols. Sunpor Technology supplied the technology for the EPS plant.

Marketing commentary for Russia's Sibur

Sibur is the largest gas and petrochemicals company in Russia, which owns and operates about 27 production sites and employs about 31,800 people. It is also one of the largest manufacturers in the plastics and organic synthesis sectors.

Sibur-Khimron, which was formed in 2000, is primarily focused on the production of liquid hydrocarbons, gas processing products, styrene and butyl alcohols. It is the only large producer of polymers in the Perm region of Russia and is the largest producer of EPS in the country.

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