Expandable Polystyrene Proprietary process technology by mikesanye


Expandable Polystyrene
  process technology
            FOR LICENSING

                Polimeri Europa                                    Licensing
                Polimeri Europa – the petrochemical                Proprietary process technologies
                company of Eni – manages the production            Phenol and derivatives
                and marketing of Basic Chemicals,                  PBE-1 Zeolite catalyst based Cumene *
                Polyethylene, Elastomers and Styrenics.            Phenol, Acetone, Alphamethylstyrene *
                                                                   Isopropyl Alcohol Acetone hydrogenation *
                With its 17 production sites throughout            Isopropyl Alcohol to Cumene *
                Europe and a widespread sales network,             PBE-1 Zeolite catalyst
                Polimeri Europa can present itself                 TS-1 Titanium silicalite catalyst based
                to the intermediates, thermoplastic resins         Ammoximation
                and elastomers market as a sound and               DMC and derivatives
                comprehensive supplier whose key strength          Dimethylcarbonate
                is its integration. From raw materials to          via Carbon Monoxide and Methanol *
                production plants, from research laboratories      Dimethylcarbonate / Diphenylcarbonate *
                to technology, through to the interface with       Polyethylene
                the market which can turn to a single source       LDPE
                with the certainty of finding solutions to its     HDPE
                requirements not only in terms of products,        EVA
                but also in terms of assistance and service.       Styrenics
                Thanks to the definition of the e-commerce         PBE-1 and PBE-2 Zeolite catalyst based
                and the logistic portal express, Polimeri Europa   Ethylbenzene
                can offer to its customers the opportunity         Styrene monomer
                to use their tailored made e-shopping              GPPS
                and logistics.                                     HIPS
                Saving time and money.                             EPS
                                                                   ABS continuous mass polymerization
                On the basis of its first hand experience,         SAN
                Polimeri Europa can also license its proprietary   Elastomers
                production technologies aiming to satisfy          e-SBR
                the even more specific customers needs.            s-SBR
                                                                   SBS / SB / LCBR
                Polimeri Europa’s commitment to quality,           Polybutadiene
                improvement and innovation continues,              Proprietary catalyst technologies
                as does its pledge to promote sustainable          Titanium silicalite
                growth with regard to the community                PBE-1 Zeolite
                and the environment.                               PBE-2 Zeolite

                                                                   * Co-licensing in cooperation with Lummus Technology
Introduction to Polimeri Europa              The main features of Polimeri Europa           Even if EPS production process is well
Expandable Polystyrene process               EPS process technology are as follows:         established, especially in the last decades
In 1976 Polimeri Europa (at that time        • inorganic suspending agent, which leads      the market needs, both in terms of quality
Montedison and then EniChem) started           to narrow bead size distribution;            and environmental impact of EPS, pushed
the production in Italy of expandable        • simple process scheme and easy               Polimeri Europa R&D to continuously
polystyrene (EPS) using a batch suspension     process control;                             improve its proprietary equipment and
polymerisation technology.                   • single step technology (the impregnation     optimise its process cycle.
During the following decade a new process,     of the beads with pre-foaming agent          The result of this effort makes Extir® EPS,
with an inorganic suspending agent, was        is made during the polymerisation step);     with its wide product portfolio, as a
developed by its R&D in Mantova and          • very good reactor filling and no need        benchmark within the European scenario.
then implemented also in another plant         for solvent washing of the reactors;
in Belgium, which was started up in 1983.    • easy availability in the world market
                                               of the chemicals used in the process;
In 1991 a new unit, acknowledging the        • flexible and wide product range, developed
improved proprietary technology developed      and fine tuned for any market requirement.
meanwhile by Polimeri Europa R&D, was
started up in Hungary.

          Material balance and process economics
          for typical EPS unit

                                                                                        per MT EPS
           Raw materials                                                           1,010-1,015 kg
           Electricity                                                                   150 kWh
           Demineralised water                                                             1.2 m3
           Steam                                                                       400-500 kg

          Process performance and economics            The versatility of Polimeri Europa EPS
          Assuming 99.9% styrene purity, the typical   technology makes easily possible to provide
          raw materials and utilities consumption      convenient solution in a broad range
          per metric ton of polymer is reported in     of capacities, from 30 to 50 kt/y.
          table above.                                 The plant arrangement can be tuned to fit
                                                       required targets, such as special grades
                                                       and/or peculiar product range.
Industrial applications                          The Extir® EPS product portfolio
Polimeri Europa EPS units are on-stream in       Polimeri Europa EPS products are
Italy (1976, 35 kt/y), Belgium (1983, 35 kt/y)   characterized by a unique balance between
and Hungary (1991, 40 kt/y), making              key properties:
Polimeri Europa one of the major European        • very good expandability;
producers of expandable polystyrene.             • short cycle times and very good fusion;
A new EPS unit of 50 kt/y has been licensed      • fine-tuned design for specific applications.
in 2004 in the Russian Federation.
                                                 Within Extir® product portfolio it is possible
                                                 to find a suitable grade for all the current
                                                 processing technologies (moulding, transfer,
                                                 vacuum or blocks), which can cover the
                                                 following main application.
                                                 Normal grades
                                                 • boxes and containers for marble and food;
                                                 • packaging;
                                                 • lightened concrete;
                                                 • light and heavy blocks.
                                                 Fire resistant grades
                                                 • industrial packaging;
                                                 • sheet and blocks for insulation
                                                    in the building industry;
                                                 • wall padding sheets;
                                                 • floor bodies;
                                                 • disposable forms;
                                                 • lightened mortars and bricks.
                                                           Process design advanced features
                                                           Even if the process scheme basically calls in
                                                           mind the most common current technologies,
                                                           Polimeri Europa EPS technology is peculiar
                                                           being provided with the following proprietary
                                                           advanced design features:

         The Polimeri Europa EPS technology is             Polymerization section
         based on a batch suspension polymerization        Proprietary reactor design able to give
         of styrene, with an inorganic suspending          narrow bead size distributions; high reactor
         agent. The internal chemicals are dissolved       filling and no need for chemical washing.
         in styrene. This preheated solution is            Proprietary suspension system based on
         afterwards transferred into a reactor, pre-       an inorganic agent, able to:
         filled with demi water and suspending agent,      • get an optimal control on bead size
         under agitation.                                  distribution and bead internal cellular
         Polymerisation starts and continues till,         structure;
         to a certain polymer content, the blowing         • stabilize the small styrene droplets,
         agent is added. The reaction goes ahead           avoiding the risk of agglomeration during the
         untill the residual styrene reaches the target    polymerisation cycle.
         value, according to a proper temperature          Single step technology the impregnation
         cycle and recipe. Final bead size is chemically   of the beads with pre-foaming agent is made
         controlled during the polymerisation up to        during the polymerisation step, thus
         the desired diameter.                             avoiding a further and expensive steeping
         The small amount of blowing agent escaping        phase.
         from the polymerisation section is sent to        Wide bead size range from 0.2 to 3 mm;
         a flare. After polymerisation, EPS bead slurry    a typical narrow size distribution (s/x)
         is cooled to an intermediate temperature          of 0.18 can be obtained for any bead size.
         and then transferred to pressurised cooling       Easy availability in the world market of the
         tanks, where it reaches the final discharge       chemical used in the process.
         temperature. The slurry is then transferred
         into a bigger slurry tank, capable to contain     Coating section
         several batches, in order to get a good           Highly developed coating deposition
         homogeneity and to continuously feed the          technology able to tailor EPS grades to
         centrifugation section. Wet beads are then        the desired customer needs.
         still continuously fed to a drier and to the      Easy availability in the world market of
         screening section to be classified in the         the chemicals useed in the process.
         desired grades. All the waste water can be
         treated by a common byological plant.             Flexibility
         Single fractions are temporary stored in          As a consequence of its optimised plant
         silos and batch wise lubricated with a proper     design Polimeri Europa technology can
         coating recipe. All the residual amounts          match any possible requirement in term
         of the coated fractions (e.g. excess weights      of product portfolio, keeping the polymer
         of the lubricating section) can be recovered      quality to the top level.
         in the slurry tank section.
                         Styrene Rubber



                                                                                                                        Demineralised water

Raw materials

Process sections


By products

                   Rubber dissolution







                                                                                               Expandable Polystyrene
                                                             to biological treatment
                                          to flare


 Polimeri Europa SpA
 A subsidiary of Eni SpA
 Sole shareholder company

 Head Office
 Piazza Boldrini, 1
 20097 San Donato Milanese (Milano) – Italy
 t +39 02 520.1

 Piazza Boldrini, 1
 20097 San Donato Milanese (Milano) – Italy
 t +39 02 520.32883
 f +39 02 520.32077

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