Imtex olefin-paraffin membrane separation demo unit announced
Canada's Mississauga-based Imtex Membranes Corp., is planning to build a $15-million plant at the Arlanxeo industrial park in Sarnia. President Karlis Vasarais said they expect to have the site operating in 12 to 15 months.
Last week, the federal government announced a more than $6-million investment in Imtex through Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
“Imtex’s unique membrane technology uses less energy and creates less waste, resulting in cleaner air for Canadians and lower operating costs for companies,” Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, said in a news release.
Vasarais said the eight-year-old company has invested more than $20 million in its membrane technology for separating olefin and paraffin for the oil and gas industry.
“Those two molecules are very similar in character and they’re very hard to split apart,” he said. “We can do that using our membrane technology.”
He said the company plans to build a demonstration plant clients can run their own feedstock through as a long-term test of the process. “At the same time,” he added, “we’re actually going to build our own full-size plant, once the demonstration is complete.”
The demonstration facility is expected to employ 20 workers, mostly process operators, he said.
After the demonstration is complete and the planned full-sized commercial facility reaches operation in Sarnia, the number of employees is expected to approach 50, Vasarais said.
He said they were initially looking at Sarnia as a source of customers when the opportunity to build a demonstration plant “behind the fence” at Arlanxeo was suggested by Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, a Sarnia-based agency that helps companies with new technologies reach market.
“We underestimated the value proposition that Sarnia could provide a company like Imtex,” Vasarais said.
The Arlanxeo site provided access to existing facilities, such a rail loading equipment and a flare stack, as well as having the advantage of being in an established industrial area, Vasarais said.
“This is homegrown technology, so why wouldn’t we want to deploy it in a homegrown setting, particularly because just down the road from us in every direction there’s four or five different customers who could potentially benefit from this technology,” he said.
“Later this year, and into 2020, we will be deploying three of our existing units, or pilot units, around the world, but the Sarnia project will be our first commercial plant.”
Stephen Thompson, CEO of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Imtex to the region and believe that this commitment recognizes Sarnia-Lambton’s reputation as an outstanding location for implementing emerging technologies that will create the jobs of the future.”
He added Imtex’s project “reaffirms our reputation as a world leader in biotechnology.”
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From the April 2018 issue of Hydrocarbon Processing