Ethane crackers are generally, very large industrial facilities converting gas to another by-product. The vast majority, are located on the Gulf Coast. The “cracker” takes ethane, a component of natural gas and processes it-or ‘cracks’ it (breaks down) into ethylene. This is done by heating the ethane, to an extreme temperature causing it to break apart the molecular bonds holding it together. Ethane is used almost exclusively as a petrochemical feedstock to produce ethylene.
Figure1. Displays the cracking process for ethylene.
Ethylene is the root chemical for plastics, resins, adhesives and synthetic products used in every aspect of modern life; it is the most commonly manufactured petrochemical.
We all depend on natural gas to make every aspect of our lives possible and to support our economy. Most of the products we use are derived from natural gas. Without these industrial facilities and the industrial conversion process discussed above, we would not enjoy many of the modern conveniences we take for granted.
Many industrial plants such as petrochemical plants are supported by the insulation industry. The miles of piping in these facilities require insulation to conserve energy, preserve process temperature, reduce heat loss and improve workplace safety. Demanding requirements need to be met for these types of environments, in order to maintain consistency and prevent high-impact issues. Now you know what an “ethane cracker” is and understand that industrial insulation plays a vital part in the process.
Frazier, Reid. “Frequently Asked Questions About Ethane Crackers.” The Allegheny Front, The Allegheny Front , 2012, www.alleghenyfront.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-ethane-crackers/.
“U.S. Ethane Production, Consumption and Exports.” U.S. Ethane Production, Consumption, and Exports Expected to Increase through 2018 - Today in Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Energy Information Administration, 17 Jan. 2017, www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=29572.