This will allow Huntsman to meet rising local demand in customised applications, said the company.
Speaking at a press conference at PU China 2018 Huntsman outlined one customised application. This is using polyurethane insulation in large pipelines which transfer residual heat from a coal-fired power plant near Taiyuan, Shanxi to urban areas. The large-scale heat transfer is helping the city reduce its PM 2.5 emission from local coal-fired boilers.
The project has provided heat to half of Taiyuan’s 4 million urban population since 2016. Using residual heat this way has enabled the city to scrap 5,000 district heating boilers in the city.
Additionally, using residual heat has helped the city to save 930,000 tons of coal each year. ‘The cleanest energy is saved energy,’ said Kenny Pan, vice president, Asia Pacific at Huntsman Polyurethanes.
The 38-km-long pipeline includes a 15 km tunnel which is the longest tunnel in China for a heating pipeline. Each of the heating pipes is 1.4 m diameter. It was one of the world’s most challenging engineering projects, said the company.
Similar pipelines can be found in Northern Europe but with much smaller diameters. Typically, these are no more than 1 m, said Su Bingli, Huntsman Polyurethane’s China commercial director. He added that the pipeline handles 15,000 tonne/water/hour.
The Taiyuan project used sprayed polyurethane foam to give the pipeline to give a 10-cm thick insulation layer.
The formulation is based on an all-water blowing system. By using this type of formulation it was possible to cut the materials cost by over 20% compared with HCFC 141b. And, in addition, it is able to reduce heat loss by 30% more than China’s national standards.
The insulation is designed to have over 30 years' service life at a working temperature of 140° C. Huntsman designed a special aging testing line to be sure that the material was up to the job. This tested the material by putting subjecting the foam to 200° C for 1,000 hours and monitoring its properties.
‘This is one of the areas where China’s technology has outpaced Europe,’ said Su.
Huntsman started working on such heating pipeline networks over a decade ago and has completed more than 100 projects. The projects now heat 10% of China’s total population and. ultimately, Huntsman hopes to double the coverage to 3bn people.
The potential for the technology is significant and Huntsman expects to see growth of around 15%/year over the next three to five years.
In northern China, a third of the region is still to use residual heat from power plants for domestic heating, said Su.