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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry

III Pharmaceuticals

IV Chemists In Other Industries

V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis

VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links

VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories

VIII The Plastics Industry
i Plastics processing
ii Phenol - basis of the first plastic
iii Plastics - the first generation
iv Plastics - the second generation - from petrochemicals
v Styrene monomer - the West Footscray petrochemical complex
vi The Botany petrochemical complex
vii The petrochemical complex at Altona
viii CSR - from sugar alcohol to petrochemical OXO alcohol

IX The Paint Industry

X Acknowledgements



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Plastics - the second generation - from petrochemicals (continued)

PACCAL's strategy was to use the large fuel gas market, a low cost feedstock, and its relationship with the Boral refinery to give it a competitive edge over the more conventional routes to petrochemicals. The plant was built at Silverwater, a Sydney suburb, and came on stream in 1955. Design content of the PACCAL stream was 17 per cent ethylene. The company's fuel gas supply contract was sufficiently flexible to permit extraction of a large proportion of the ethylene. Liquid by-products from the process included a crude benzene stream. A particularly innovative concept was to utilise the Boral refinery diesel Unifiner (hydrotreater) as the first step in the purification of this benzene. The crude material, similar to pyrolysis gasoline from a naphtha cracker, is difficult to treat because of the high content of gum forming compounds which foul heat exchange surfaces. Dilution with the large volume of diesel oil overcame this problem, while the hydrotreating removed both the unsaturated materials and impurities such as thiophene, permitting the subsequent solvent extraction of aromatics to produce a very high quality benzene.

The PACCAL plant, however, provided only the first step towards economic petrochemical intermediates. Ethylene manufacture still needed the provision of low temperature distillation facilities to separate a pure product; this presupposed equitable division of cost and product amongst a number of products and producers. Attempts to find the necessary range of ethylene derivatives were unsuccessful.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Bitumen Oil Refineries (Australia) Ltd (B.O.R.A.L.); Boral; Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Australia) Ltd (P.A.C.C.A.L.)

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© 1988 Print Edition page 700, Online Edition 2000
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