3 Jun 2024 11:41

TopTech introducing autothermal reforming in Russia to monetize gas

MOSCOW. June 3 (Interfax) - TopTech has begun introducing large-scale ammonia production based on autothermal reforming (ATR) technology, the Russian engineering company's CEO, Alexei Polyakov told reporters.

Previously, foreign companies licensed the technology for such projects. This technology also serves to monetize gas, including production of methanol, hydrogen and synthesis gas for production of fuel in gas to liquid processes (Fischer-Tropsch process).

"Our technological solutions fit into the technological sovereignty program, both for large-scale production facilities and for unique units, including for oil refineries and chemical plants, where previously all such cases were offered by foreign companies," Polyakov said.

The process takes 4.5 years from the start of development to roll-out, he said. "We now have four live projects in negotiations for capacity of 2,200-2,300 tonnes of ammonia per day. These are specifically new projects, not modernization projects. We have one project in Tatarstan, two in Ust-Luga and one for Azot Group.

ATR equipment - a reactor and its core element, an oxygen blowpipe, as well as an ammonia synthesis loop - is already being designed for one Russian company. This equipment will be part of an ammonia unit that will be built by 2030.

The advantages of ATR technology include high hydrocarbon conversion rate and productivity, low per-unit natural gas consumption, no need for to supply or remove heat and compact size, which reduces capital expenditures.

"The maximum capacity of such projects is limited by the availability of rotating equipment that can be purchased on the market. Therefore, we are currently setting capacity of 3,500 tonnes per day as a restriction for ourselves," Polyakov said.

"Static large-scale equipment in Russia is at a very good level, while dynamic equipment [such as compressors, ventilation units, pumps, electric motors and turbines], especially with particular coatings, with polymer coating, still needs to be developed," he said. Furthermore, particular, high-temperature steels are still imported, for example reformer tubes for steam reformer heaters are largely Chinese, he added.

Polyakov also said that, in addition to standard EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contracts, TopTech operates on the BOO (build, own, operate) model, where it builds a plant, operates it and sells the finished product to the customer.

"The customer must provide the site and supply the resources, while the unit and sales are our part. This is our offering that sets us apart, including from Chinese companies, who operate on EPC terms and do not agree to BOO. In the metallurgical sector, they switched to such a model long ago, but in gas chemicals this never existed at all before, so this is a new offering in the industry," Polyakov said.

"Given that not many companies are eager to invest their own money right now, this is a good offering - essentially deferred payments for product, where it's not necessary to invest a large amount of funds initially," he said.

"We use completely Russian design software in our work - Kompas, Passat. Plus we're developing our own solutions," Polyakov said.

TopTech is conducting an audit of equipment manufacturers in friendly countries to meet its current needs. On a recent visit to international oil and gas equipment maker Aager's operation in Turkey, the companies agreed to work together.

"We are considering these partners for production of internal devices, foremost high-pressure and heat-exchange equipment for oil refining. They already work with Russian customers," TopTech chief technology officer Petr Leonov said.

TopTech, founded in 2022, focuses on designing and developing process projects, basic technologies for synthesis of gas, ammonia, methanol, hydro processes in oil refining, hydrogen sulfide recovery and sulfuric acid regeneration.