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HPIn Brief

05.01.2011  |  Thinnes, Billy,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX


BASF foam insulating LNG pipes in Korea

BASF’s specialty foam Basotect is now, for the first time, being used to insulate pipes in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank terminal in Gwangyang, Korea. The pipe cover with Basotect provides energy-efficient thermal insulation, easy handling and flame retardancy. LNG is natural gas that is temporarily liquefied at very low temperatures, in order to transport or store it more easily. As the temperature of LNG must be kept below –162°C, efficient insulation for the pipes is necessary.

According to SKI Insulation, the system supplier of the removable insulation cover, the pipe cover made from Basotect is more energy-efficient as it is 20% thinner than conventional foam insulation.

“Basotect shows a high degree of stability at low temperatures. In laboratory tests even at temperatures of around –200°C the material retains its properties. The high degree of elasticity and the thermal insulation capacity of the foam remain unaffected, in contrast to conventional foam insulation, which becomes brittle when exposed to such extreme cold,” said Dr. Peter Wolf, head of Global Business Management Basotect at BASF.

SKI Insulation discovered that the system material with the lightweight and flexible BASF foam can be easily removed for regular inspection of pipe integrity and later reused, unlike rigid conventional foams that are hard to replace. This translates into reduced maintenance costs. Additionally, Basotect is a highly flame-retardant material, another key consideration for SKI Insulation, as natural gas burns easily.

Basotect is an open-cell foam and it has a unique range of properties. The base material makes it flame-retardant; it can be used at up to 240°C while retaining its properties over a wide temperature range. Because of its open-cell foam structure, it is light (9 g/l), sound-absorbing, flexible even at low temperatures and thermally insulating. 

Dow Global Technologies (DGT) has announced the invention and development of a new, high-molecular-weight brominated polymeric flame retardant (PFR). The PFR is expected to be the “next-generation industry-standard” flame retardant for use in both extruded polystyrene (XPS) and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam-insulation applications globally. The development of the new PFR is the result of Dow’s continuing search for more sustainable products and, in this case, for a flame retardant that can replace hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

DGT also announced its first license agreement with Chemtura Corp. This first license agreement makes it possible for Great Lakes Solutions, a Chemtura business, to produce and sell the newly developed PFR for use in XPS and EPS foam.

A poll released in April shows that 90% of Americans believe the nation’s petroleum refineries and petrochemical manufacturing plants are among America’s “most important” or “important” industries. NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, announced results of the poll conducted by Opinion Research.

A total of 44% of Americans believe the refining and petrochemical sectors are “among the country’s most important industries,” while 46% consider the sector “among the country’s important industries,” the poll found. Only 5% of those surveyed said the refining and petrochemical sectors were “not among the country’s important industries” and the remaining 5% said they did not know.

The board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the US has voted to grant preliminary approval for a $2.84 billion direct loan/loan guarantee to Colombia’s Refinería de Cartagena S.A. (Reficar). The financing, when finally approved, will support the purchases of equipment and services from over 150 large and small US engineering/design, equipment supply, contracting and process license firms, including Chicago Bridge & Iron, Foster Wheeler, ExxonMobil and UOP. This is part of a $5.18 billion refinery and upgrade project in Cartagena, Colombia, supplying petroleum products to the domestic and export markets.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require electronic submissions for new chemical notices under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Beginning last month, companies can no longer submit their new chemical notices and support documents on paper for the EPA’s review.

On April 6, 2010, the EPA issued a final rule that put in place a two-year phaseout of paper and optical-disc reporting for new chemical notices to the agency. The rule included a one-year phaseout of paper reporting and a two-year phaseout of optical-disc reporting. Under TSCA, companies are required to submit new chemical notices, including pre-manufacture notices (PMNs), to the EPA at least 90 days (in the case of PMNs) prior to the manufacture or import of the chemical. The EPA reviews the notice and can set conditions to be placed on the use of a new chemical before it enters into commerce.

Marking the one year anniversary of the tragic accident at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a video safety message in which Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso urged refinery companies to “make the investments necessary to ensure safe operations.”

The video highlighted the CSB’s ongoing investigation into the April 2, 2010, accident that killed seven workers. At the time of the incident, a heat exchanger was being brought online when the nearly 40-year-old piece of equipment catastrophically failed, spewing highly flammable hydrogen and naphtha that ignited and exploded.

Tesoro disputes the findings of the CSB. Company spokesperson Mike Marcy said in a statement that, “We disagree with the chairman’s characterization of Tesoro’s operations at Anacortes. The heat exchanger was maintained and inspected in accordance with regulations and industry standards. We continue to cooperate with the CSB.”  HP

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