Honeywell UOP and King Fahd University for Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) have unveiled the details of their successful partnership to develop innovative new catalytic processes for petrochemicals production.
Scientists from Honeywell UOP have been working with professors and researchers from KFUPM in Dhahran since 2011 on new catalytic processes for producing paraxylene, an aromatic compound used in making textiles, packaging material and containers.
The new processes allow refiners and aromatics producers to efficiently use a wider range of available feedstocks while increasing paraxylene production. The work is being done at a state-of-the-art Honeywell UOP research and development (R&D) laboratory at KFUPM that includes a catalyst testing and screening pilot plant.
“Honeywell UOP has been driving technology innovation in the Kingdom for more than 60 years, and this collaboration with KFUPM shows our commitment to fostering localized technology development in the Kingdom,” said Jim Moshi, Honeywell UOP’s Middle East general manager.
“Increased paraxylene production is a great opportunity for the Kingdom to diversify its economy through clusters of industrial sites, significantly expanding its downstream industries and capabilities, and it is a great honour to work so closely with KFUPM.”
“The King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) is a leading educational and research institution for science and technology, with significant experience in petroleum refining and petrochemicals,” said Dr Sulaiman Al-Khattaf, director of KFUPM Center for Refining & Petrochemicals.
"KFUPM is recognized for solving critical scientific and technical problems as well as working on turning knowledge into practice.
“Recently, it has been ranked first in the Arab world according to QS World University Rankings,” he added. “KFUPM partnership with Honeywell UOP symbolizes the cooperation between our organizations to strengthen the University's capabilities in catalysts and catalytic process development and commercialization – all of which reflects our shared commitment to the future prosperity of Saudi Arabia.”
In addition to unlocking new revenue streams for local industries, the cooperation is helping to upgrade the technical skills and develop engineering R&D talent in the Kingdom through joint training efforts.
In 2014 Honeywell UOP launched UOP University, a program under which scientists from Honeywell UOP deliver graduate level courses on catalysis in refining and petrochemicals to KFUPM students. In addition, Honeywell UOP provides summer training to KFUPM chemical engineering students at its lab in Dhahran Techno Valley.
“As a global technology leader we remain committed to finding and developing the world’s leading engineering talent,” Moshi added. “The Kingdom is home to thousands of talented and aspiring scientists and engineers, and our programs provide them with the best training they could have to develop successful long-term careers and to shape the future of their nation and its industries.”
According to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), Saudi Arabia had 98.5 million tonnes per year of petrochemicals production capacity in 2016. It is the region’s second-largest industry within the manufacturing sector, creating more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs and $108 billion worth of products in 2015.
Honeywell UOP is a leading international supplier and licensor of process technology, catalysts, adsorbents, equipment, and consulting services to the petroleum refining, petrochemical, and gas processing industries.