Ahead of IDW 2022: International Downstream Week, we sat down with Lummus Technology’s Chief Technology Officer, Ujjal Mukherjee, to get his perspective on the technologies and trends shaping the downstream market.
Lummus is a sponsor of the event along with its joint ventures, Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) and Lummus Digital. The conference will take place in Dubrovnik on 29-30 September.
1. What role will downstream technologies and companies like Lummus play in the energy transition?
Downstream operators are increasingly looking for technologies that help them meet their ESG goals and enable their facilities to run cleaner and more energy efficient. Therefore, we develop, innovate and commercialise the technologies and solutions that address these customer needs.
In 2020, Lummus established a new business called Green Circle to focus on the energy transition and serve as a launchpad where we can help our partners bring sustainable solutions to market.
Green Circle is part of a broader comprehensive strategy across our entire portfolio. We are implementing new designs and innovations so our existing technologies produce cleaner and renewable fuels, lower the carbon footprint of downstream investments and process waste plastic products.
2. How does the downstream industry need to evolve and adapt to the energy transition?
The entire downstream industry is evolving and adapting to the reality that the energy transition is here. It is no longer something we can plan for in the future.
As a technology provider, we have a huge role to play in this evolution. With our in-depth knowledge across most technologies in refining and petrochemicals, we are positioned to embrace and accelerate realistic pathways to decarbonising the industry. Some examples of how we are evolving and adapting our technologies include:
- designing more energy efficient plants;
- minimising feedstock consumption;
- reducing waste;
- extending the use of catalysts
3. What are some of the key technology drivers shaping the downstream scene today?
In addition to the energy transition there is digitalisation and increased conversion of crude to chemicals.
On digitalisation, our industry was slower than others in adopting. Fortunately, we are quickly catching up. Lummus has a suite of digital services plus a joint venture with TCG Digital, called Lummus Digital. The joint venture combines our leading process licensing portfolio with TCG Digital’s proven data and AI platform to guide customers along their digital transformation journey, with targeted solutions to address their pain points and help their plants run more efficiently, reliably, safely and profitably.
On converting crude to chemicals, Lummus, CLG and Saudi Aramco formed a partnership called TC2C to develop a direct crude conversion process. This diversifies feedstocks for the industry. To date, the technology is capable of extracting a higher percentage of chemicals from crude oil than any technology on the market. It also reduces CAPEX by at least 40 percent compared to conventional crude oil to chemicals routes. Alongside the superior conversion of oil to chemicals, the energy consumption of the process is lower than any previously known routes, which obviously fits well with the energy transition.
Saudi Aramco, CB&I and Chevron Lummus Global sign Joint Development Agreement to demonstrate and commercialize Thermal Crude to Chemicals (TC2C™) technology
4. What are some of the technology innovations that Lummus has developed to adapt to these market drivers?
Lummus’ proprietary ethane feed steam cracking process is the most widely applied process for the production of polymer grade ethylene and polymer grade propylene.
Recently Lummus launched the industry’s first net zero ethane cracker, which is a breakthrough technology that will help downstream producers reduce emissions and meet their sustainability goals. The cracker can achieve zero CO2 emissions from an ethylene plant, which is to say, it can decarbonise a process in petrochemical manufacturing that is very carbon intensive. So for ethylene producers who want to reduce the carbon footprint of their investments, this new net zero ethane cracker will help them achieve their decarbonisation goals.
5. What successful industry collaboration are you most proud of and why?
Throughout Lummus' 110-plus year history, developing successful partnerships has helped us enhance innovation, grow our business, and create technology solutions to overcome the industry's most complex challenges. In fact, collaboration with other industry innovators is a cornerstone of our business model and has been for many decades.
CLG is an excellent example of effective, successful collaboration where we are leveraging the unparalleled expertise and experience of a technology licensor and a major integrated operator
One example that I am proud of is Chevron Lummus Global, in part, because I had the pleasure of leading the joint venture from the Lummus side before assuming my current role. CLG is an excellent example of effective, successful collaboration where we are leveraging the unparalleled expertise and experience of a technology licensor (Lummus) and a major integrated operator (Chevron). What you get with the combination is CLG, a leading process technology licensor for refining technologies and alternative fuels, as well as a global leader in catalyst supply.
6. Lummus and the joint ventures that Lummus is a part of – Chevron Lummus Global and Lummus Digital – are sponsoring IDW 2022. What do you expect from the conference?
This year (2022) will be remembered as the year when conferences and trade-shows really shifted back to in person. It is extremely valuable to be shoulder-to-shoulder again with colleagues at these events, especially in such a beautiful location such as Dubrovnik!
There is no substitute for what you get by participating in person
Virtual conferences were important and effective at the height of the pandemic. They were a way to connect while travel was restricted, communities were locked down and so many people were quarantining; however, there is no substitute for what you get by participating in person. For attendees, in person events provide a much better experience. The networking opportunities are more abundant and meaningful. The demonstrations and exhibits are more impactful, and these are just a few of the reasons why the shift back to in person events is a positive one. For me personally, I look forward to in person discussions with my industry peers.
We would like to thank Ujjal Mukherjee for this interview and Lummus Technology for supporting this year's International Downstream Week - IDW 2022.
Join us at the event to meet in person with the Lummus Technology delegation and other important players in the refining & petrochemicals industry in Europe.
For more info, visit: idw.europetro.com