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EghtesadOnline: The project to eliminate the volatile organic compounds emissions from a wastewater treatment unit at Tabriz Petrochemical Plant in East Azarbaijan Province has been launched as the company moves to help protect the environment and become more eco-friendly.

VOC emissions are considered a serious environmental problem in petrochemical industries. The project, the first of its kind in Iran, was completed at a cost of $2.37 million, the National Petrochemical Company news website Nipna reported.

The project was designed by Sahand University of Technology in Tabriz with financial support from East Azarbaijan’s general administration of environment. 

“In the project, the surface of all open ponds have been covered with special aluminum sheets and flow of VOCs is sucked from the ponds via a network of pumps, transferred to furnaces, and burned there,” the managing director of Tabriz Petrochemical Plant said.

Siavash Darafshi pointed to recent environmental projects of the company including complete recirculation of wastewater by treatment and reusing 110 cubic meters per hour.

The company has also manufactured a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) system to collect and dispose emissions from its ABS unit.

RTO is an energy-saving system that oxidizes and decomposes VOCs and odorous emissions that are discharged from industrial or manufacturing processes at 850°C or higher. It is suitable for the treatment of high concentration gases.

It achieves emission destruction through the process of high temperature thermal oxidation, using the proper mix of temperature, residence time, turbulence and oxygen to convert pollutants into carbon dioxide and water vapor.


Health Impact

VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. They cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and also can damage the liver, kidney and central nervous system. 

What makes RTO the most widely used emission abatement technology is its ability to repurpose the thermal energy generated during operation to reduce operating costs and energy consumption of the system itself.


Big Domestic Market

Located in East Azarbaijan in the northwest, TPCO products include raw polymers, polyethylene, polystyrene and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). 

According to Darafshi, 40% of the plant's output is sold domestically and the rest is exported to 33 clients in Asia and Europe.

The project to connect Tabriz Petrochemical Company to the West Ethylene Pipeline was inaugurated earlier this year as the last and final phase of the major pipeline.

This pipeline is 1,200 kilometers long and runs from the port city of Asalouyeh off the Persian Gulf in the south to the northwest. It supplies ethylene as feedstock to 12 petrochemical factories along the way.

It helped TPCO increase annual output from 440,000 tons to 1.2 million tons in three years.

Ethylene is a petrochemical-derived monomer that is used in countless products including fibers and plastics and is a useful addition in making organic chemicals. 

The new pipeline has an annual capacity of 3.5 million tons of ethylene, 2.5 million tons of which comes from the major South Pars Gas Field and the rest from Gachsaran field in Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad Province.

Iran’s petrochemical sector has grown significantly and has readied policies to complete the value-added chain in the key sector. 

The rapidly expanding petrochemical industry supplies most of the domestic need, thanks to the quality and diversity of products. Export volumes are significant.

According to published reports, Iran will invest $40 billion in the petrochemical sector over five years to increase annual output to 133 million tons from 66 million tons now.


Petrochemical Tabriz East Azarbaijan VOC Emissions