Strengtheningbackbone Indian chemical industry

Strengthening the backbone of Indian chemical industry

11:38 AM, 27th September 2016
Strengthening the backbone of Indian chemical industry
Shailendra Roy, senior executive vice president of power, heavy engineering & defence; whole time director and member of stakeholders' relationship committee, Larsen & Toubro Limited

In an interview Shailendra Roy, senior executive vice president of power, heavy engineering & defence; whole time director and member of stakeholders' relationship committee, Larsen & Toubro Limited with Chemical Today magazine discusses at length about the growing dynamics of equipment industry for chemical process plants and the ways in which India can become a global leader by unleashing its domestic manufacturing capabilities.

By Shivani Mody

Give us an idea about the equipment landscape for the chemical process plants in India and how it will shape up in the coming years.

Chemical process equipment are typically static (non-moving/no moving parts) equipment or rotating/ rotary/ dynamic (moving parts) type. Static equipment comprises of reactors, pressure vessels, heat transfer equipment and internals.

For static equipment, the key trends are in:

  • Use of advanced metallurgy to reduce the weight and improve corrosion resistance/high temperature resistance. A typical example is in use  of Vanadium enhanced low alloy steels for hydrogen service, and in advanced urea grade materials for fertilizer equipment.
  • Larger equipment capable of withstanding more severe operating conditions, thus improving plant capacity.

What is your view on the equipment needs for chemical process plants in India and abroad?

Technology for chemical process plants worldwide is provided by a few select process licensors. The technology used in Indian plants is the same as those employed internationally. Being a leading equipment manufacturer for chemical process plants, L&T has supplied equipment based on the technology of almost all the major process licensors worldwide. We find that there is no major difference in equipment design, which we supply to Indian customers.

Mention the latest developments in equipment & systems requirement for chemical process plants.

Faced with the threat of global warming and strict environmental regulations, process industries are deploying modern technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and emissions. Some of the techniques are:

  • Reduce specific energy consumption i.e. energy consumed per ton of product produced. This calls for use of advanced catalysts, which can increase the yield and / or operate at lower pressures, use of more energy efficient systems, utilization of waste heat, minimizing consumption of utilities etc. This requires revamp or retrofit of existing plants, installation of additional equipment etc.
  • Statutory requirement to meet Euro 6 norms for gasoline and diesel fuels to reduce emissions from automobiles. Petroleum refineries are investing heavily to upgrade their plants to meet this requirement.
  • Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS) and Flue Gas Desulfurization are currently not economically viable. However, these technologies are expected to gain momentum in the future.
  • A trend that is emerging is the installation of very large capacity plants to benefit from the economies of scale. Eg RIL has set up the largest capacity refinery at a single location in Jamnagar. Mega Methanol and Mega Urea plants are proposed to be set up. This requires bigger and heavier equipment which presents challenges with respect to fabrication & logistics.
  • Modular construction of plants is being increasingly employed. Skid mounted equipment systems are also becoming more and more popular.
  • Advances in materials technology have helped to develop new materials suitable for more severe service, yet having higher strength. The use of exotic materials for corrosive applications has also increased substantially eg. today, Titanium is widely used in seawater cooled heat exchanger service.

Give us an idea about the critical piping solutions needed for the chemical process plants.

We provide critical piping solutions for various industries like fertilizers, petrochemicals & power sector. These piping handle fluids at very high pressure & high temperature. Process fluids like superheated steam-water for supercritical plants may range in excess of 600 deg C. In petroleum refineries, pipelines handle mixture of hydrocarbon and hydrogen. In fertilizer plants, the pipelines handle Ammonia. The quality requirements for such applications are very stringent as a small failure may result in catastrophic situation. Handling multi-phase fluids inside pipes is challenging. Improper design can lead to undesirable two-phase flow regimes resulting in pulsating flow and vibration of the piping. The design of the piping also needs to be assessed for abnormal/turndown/upset conditions. High temperature pipelines may require application of special refractory lining.

What is the potential for modifications/revamp/upgrade for the chemical process plants in the country?

There is excellent MRU potential for fertilizer (urea) and refinery (hydrocracker) equipment. These are driven by the age of the plant and advancements in site manufacturing capabilities including advanced in-situ welding and non-destructive testing.

L&T has a well-established and proven track record for MRU in all process plant industries, with a highly capable site team that can meet the stringent deadlines and quality requirements.

Mention the major pain points faced by chemical process plant equipment providers in current times.

Major pain points faced by equipment manufacturers are:

  • Lack of indigenous raw material sources
  • High interest cost & inflation
  • Poor transportation & power infrastructure
  • Unfriendly labor laws
  • Forex volatility
  • Over-capacity in the global market coupled with low oil prices, poor investment appetite
  • Cartelising by integrated players
  • Dearth of young talent who would rather prefer the service industry.

How can the industry support the ‘Make in India’ initiative of Government of India?

To support the Make in India initiative of GoI, some steps already undertaken by pioneers such as L&T, and being/ need to be emulated by others are:

  • High sensitivity to safety of personnel, workplace, environment
  • Adhering to global quality standards
  • Respect for IPR and other trade confidentialities
  • Transparency & flexibility in customer dealings

At the same time, a reciprocal support from Government is desired, by ensuring that there are adequate barriers to price dumping by foreign companies and safeguards for domestic produce, the way it is done in other countries such as Korea, Brazil  and Europe. Government owned/ PSU entities also need to incorporate these measures in their tender/ bids so as to promote localisation in India.

Tell us about your metallurgy, steel requirements as a chemical process plant equipment manufacturer.

Materials for chemical process plant equipment mostly get decided by the process licensors based on their experiments and experience. As a manufacturer, we sometimes help our customers in selection of right metallurgy by sharing our experience and expertise on construction and manufacturability. The materials commonly employed for main pressure boundary are C-Mn, Mn-Ni-Mo, Cr-Mo & Cr-Mo-V steels. For resistance against corrosive chemicals, these steels are often internally clad or lined with superior alloys e.g. stainless steel, Duplex or Super Duplex SS, Inconel, Monel, Cupronickel, Titanium, Zirconium etc. In case of low pressure applications, the vessel could be made of the solid corrosion resistant material itself.

How does your technology help address the industry’s impending issue of corrosion of the equipment by chemicals and atmosphere?

Defining the specifications for procurement of the selected materials and their welding consumables needs special attention. Utmost care is taken during procurement to ensure that material meets all the chemical, mechanical and corrosion requirements. Selection and implementation of the correct fabrication sequence, process and procedure followed by effective verification and quality check is the key to ensure retention of corrosion resistance property. Manufacturer must have good knowledge of the applicable materials and the effect of various fabrication processes on their corrosion resistance. Certain examples of good manufacturing procedure/ practice are as follows:

  • Materials like urea grade SS or duplex SS shouldn’t be subjected to heat treatment that is required for carbon steel involved in the pressure boundary
  • Effective segregation and cleaning of corrosion resistance materials and their working area
  • Reactive materials like Titanium need proper shielding protection during welding and thorough quality check post welding

Elaborate on your R&D and innovation.

Process & Manufacturing Technology Centre of L&T Heavy Engineering, based in Powai Campus, is the focal point for technology development. Technology Centre contributes towards developing cutting edge technologies in order to help Heavy Engineering move up the value chain and attain leadership position in process plant equipment businesses.

These technology centers comprises of a group of multi-skilled engineers with specialisation spanning a variety of domains including chemical process development, process simulation, thermal & hydraulic design, flow-induced vibration analysis, CFD analysis, FE analysis, Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) analysis, Welding & Metallurgy etc.

Technology centre for Process has developed in-house design capability for products like the Shell & Tube type LNG vaporiser, High Temperature Heat Recovery systems, Mist eliminators etc. Currently, these proprietary equipment are being imported. The in-house development would boost Make in India programme.

Utilizing the chemical simulation capability, over time we have developed understanding of Urea Process. Leveraging our multidisciplinary knowledge base including Non-linear Thermo- Structural FEA, Metallurgy & Welding processes, we perform advance welding simulations for prediction of weld induced distortion. This prediction helps in optimisation of various welding parameters resulting in faster & flawless welding. We have joined hands with leading R&D establishments. In collaboration with Indian Oil Corp Ltd (IOCL) - R&D Center, we are working on development of two-stage Coal-Petcoke gasification process, which will utilise Indian coal having high ash content. Upon successful development, the technology would help to reduce India's dependence upon imported crude oil and contribute to India’s long term energy security.

We are working on development of Slurry Residue Hydrocracking process technology in collaboration with IOCL R&D. The technology is state-of-the art, The process will upgrade Vacuum Residue (VR) /Heavy Oil (HO) to lighter distillates like Diesel & Naphtha. Currently, petroleum refineries convert the residue to petcoke, which has low value to the refineries

Tell us about your custom-designed equipment for the process plants.

L&T Heavy Engineering supplies many tailor-made equipment to the process industries based on in-house design. One of our star products is Screw plug closure High Pressure heat exchangers used in Hydrocracker and Hydrotreater units in petroleum refineries. We have a proven track record of supplying more than 300 nos. screw plug exchangers worldwide.

Another flagship equipment of L&T is the Waste Heat Boiler (WHB) package. We have a unique design for Reformed gas boilers, Synloop Boilers, CG Boilers & steam drum with internals. We have supplied over 100 nos. of Waste Heat Boilers to Ammonia, Methanol and Hydrogen plants worldwide.

L&T is the preferred supplier for almost all the major process licensors in refinery & petrochemical sector. For refineries, we supply state-of-art Hydrocracking &Hydrotreating Reactors, FCC Reactors & Regenerators along with cyclone systems and Coke Drums. We also design & fabricate multi-tubular Ethylene Oxide Reactors for Petrochemical plants. Other than this for LNG market, we fabricate Molecular Sieve Dehydrators. We have been supplying various proprietary equipment like Urea Reactor, Ammonia Converters, Urea Strippers, and Carbamate Condensers etc for fertilizer industry based on technology of various process licensors. We hold the record of supplying world’s heaviest, largest & longest equipment in most of these categories.

L&T also supplies custom solutions for heat exchangers with special configuration of helical baffles to refineries & petrochemicals industry under license agreement from CB&I Lummus. For very high thickness vessels, we have the capability to design & fabricate Multiwall configuration.

What are your custom-designed equipment for the oil & gas industry?

L&T Heavy Engineering is the world’s leading company since last many decades for design, manufacture and supply of custom-designed static equipment for various process plants of Oil & Gas Industry. The focus area includes supplies to green field / brownfield oil refineries, oil & gas processing plants, LNG liquefaction plants, gasification plants, coal to liquid & gas to liquid (CTL & GTL) plants etc.

The product range includes high pressure - high temperature equipment such as Hydro-processing Reactors & Separators, Coke Drums, Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Packages, Heavy Wall Pressure Vessels, Over-dimensional Cladded Columns, Stainless Steel Internals.

The materials involved are mainly Low Alloy Steels (CrMo / CrMo-V), Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel and other High Alloy Steels.

Some of the Benchmarks set by L&T for the O&G Industry worldwide are:

  • Bagged World’s Largest ever order placed on any supplier for Refinery Reactors worth US$421mn in 2008 for Kuwait National Petroleum Corp (KNPC) Kuwait.
  • Supplied over 200 Hydro-processing Reactors of CrMo / CrMoV Material up to Maximum weight up to 1540 MT
  • Supplied the World’s largest Coke drums (4 Nos) to weighing 620MT each for IOCL Paradip Refinery
  • Delivered one of the World’s largest FCC Regenerator weighing 1320 Tons having 16.3 meter  Diameter for Reliance Jamnagar Refinery

How do you protect your technology from the ‘copycat’ sector in India and the ‘pseudo innovators’ from China?

There are two aspects to this

1) Guarding our own Intellectual Property (IP), for this we have our dedicated IPR cell. Their primary objective of this group is to assess the innovation based on its merit & subsequently file global Patents for that innovation. L&T Heavy Engineering to its credit have numerous global Patents for L&T supplied proprietary equipment w.r.t Design & manufacturing.

2) Securing proprietary information shared by our customers or Process licensors, which is done through a highly secure PLM data management system.

How would you rate your equipment manufacturing technology and products, when compared with European chemical equipment manufacturers?

We deploy state-of-art manufacturing technology and consider ourselves at par with the European manufacturers in supply of high quality products. In all the critical fabrication areas covering welding, automation & mechanisation, machining and deep hole drilling, advance NDE and metrology etc. our technology can easily be compared and bench-marked against the existing European standards. In fact, in certain areas like high thickness (up to 800 mm) narrow gap welding, Internal Bore tube to tube sheet welding (IBW), surfacing by Electro Slag Strip Cladding (ESSC) etc., we are ahead of the European manufacturers.

How does L&T ensure sustainability for their equipment and construction process?

Our major plants at Hazira and Powai, use 50 percent & 22 percent renewable energy respectively. All our campuses are ‘Zero Discharge’ ie. we don’t release any waste water in the environment. Most of our plants (Hazira, Powai, Vadodara, Talegaon) are water positive as we consume less than what we conserve through various measures in the vicinity of the plants.

We use energy efficient manufacturing methods in welding, fabrication, heat treatment & various stages of manufacturing. Variable Frequency Drives are used in overhead cranes & machine tools to conserve energy. Transition to energy efficient LED lights for plant as well as offices is in progress. We also have Green buildings in our Hazira campus that has latest techniques and technologies. Some of the notable benefits from the Green buildings is more than 40 percent reduction in potable water consumption, 30 percent reduction in overall energy consumption.

© Chemical Today Magazine


See the Interview Coverage in Chemical Today magazine

https://www.worldofchemicals.com/digitalissue/chemicaltoday/chemical-today-september/10

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