Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and The Linde Group have announced the first successful commercialisation of Linear Alpha Olefins (LAO), using α-SABLIN® technology developed jointly by SABIC and Linde.

Discussions first began in 1998 between SABIC and Linde, for the development of technologies and plant capacity to produce LAO.

In July 2004 SABIC’s manufacturing affiliate Jubail United Petrochemical Company (UNITED) awarded the contract to Linde for engineering, procurement and construction of the 150,000 metric tons per year (tpy) plant at Jubail on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia.

The UNITED project was carried out by Linde’s subsidiary, Linde-KCA-Dresden GmbH of Germany, in close cooperation with Linde Engineering in Pullach, Germany and SABIC’s Technology and Innovation organisation.

A performance test run proved the commercial capability of the facility in May 2009 and UNITED accepted the results in July 2009.

“This first commercialisation of LAOs at Jubail is very much in keeping with SABIC’s continuous search for innovative technologies that can be employed to bring new and better product solutions to the marketplace,” said Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ubaid, SABIC’s Vice-President of Technology and Innovation.

Dr Markus Raab, Managing Director of Linde’s Engineering Division, also added, ”The commercialisation of this technology is a big success for SABIC and Linde by entering new market segments. The α-SABLIN® process is the first and only commercially proven LAO technology which is available for licensing to third parties.”

The α-SABLIN® manufacturing process uses ethylene as a feedstock for a one-stage homogeneous reaction that produces a full range of high-purity LAOs.

LAOs have a large variety of applications, such as light-cut production of Butene-1, Hexene-1 and Octene-1 used in the growing polyethylene market. Medium cuts such as Decene-1, Dodecene-1 and Tetradecene-1 are used for synthetic oils, detergents and shampoos. Heavy cuts are used in lube oil additives, surfactants, oil field chemicals and wax product applications.