Winning Contractor: KBR is Helping Keep Energy Clean - (Archived)

When people think of “clean” industries, energy production—especially oil—is not usually top of mind. The processes used to turn oil into usable fuel inherently leaves a large carbon footprint.

Global engineering, construction and services company KBR is working to change that. The company, which supports the energy, hydrocarbons, chemicals, industrial, civil infrastructure, minerals, government services and commercial markets, prides itself on developing new technologies that reduce cost and environmental impact while improving efficiency and safety.

KBR is working toward a future that preserves natural resources and promotes economic prosperity around the world. They recognize the need to be a steward of the environment, and that the products they develop have a dramatic impact on that goal. They constantly work with their global partners, clients, subcontractors and suppliers to find sustainable solutions to projects while protecting the earth.

KBR’s primary environmental goal, as laid out in their Code of Business Conduct, is the prevention of environmental pollution. They strive to develop and provide products and services that:

  • Have no undue environmental impact;
  • Are safe in their intended use;
  • Efficient in their consumption of energy and natural resources;
  • Can be recycled, reused or disposed of safely.

Olefins Technology

One such product is the company’s olefins technology. Olefins are in a class of hydrocarbons with a single double bond and a chemical formula of CnH2n. The two most important olefins are ethylene and propylene, which form the backbone of the petrochemicals market. The highly reactive double bond makes the olefin molecule ideal for conversion to many useful end products. The majority of olefins capacity is consumed in the production of polymers used for plastics (i.e. polyethylene and polypropylene). Ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, oxo alcohol, polystyrene, and acrylonitrile are other important olefins-based petrochemicals.

Today, the majority of ethylene is produced by thermal cracking of hydrocarbon feedstocks ranging from ethane to heavy vacuum gas oils. Over 60% of the world’s propylene is produced as a byproduct of thermal cracking, with the balance being supplied from refinery sources and others. The amount of propylene produced from thermal cracking is highly feedstock dependent. With future propylene demand expected to outpace ethylene demand and continued growth in Middle East, thermal crackers utilizing cost advantaged ethane feedstock, “on purpose” propylene production via catalytic cracking technologies will become more important.

KBR’s Olefins Technology portfolio contains two technology options for Olefins production, with the optimum selection dependent on available feedstocks and desired olefin product mix.

  • SCORE (Selective Cracking Optimum Recovery)
  • K-COT™ (KBR Catalytic Olefins Technology)

KBR’s catalytic olefins technology is a proven technology for converting low-value olefinic, paraffinic or mixed streams into high-value propylene and ethylene. This fall, Lotte Chemical Titan awarded KBR a contract to provide licensing and basic engineering design services to revamp an existing steam cracker plant in the Asia Pacific Region. Under the terms of the contract, KBR will supply its catalytic olefins technology and basic engineering design services to increase the plant’s olefins production capacity and help diversify its feedstock.

KBR continues to help reduce the environmental impact of energy production around the world, earning the company a FedPulse winning contractor commendation.


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