Environmentally friendly decontamination

Jon Lawson

A partnership between the University of Chester and a Cheshire-based business has led to the development of a formulation that will reduce the impact of the oil refinery decontamination process on the environment.
ProDecon Ltd, which is based in Nantwich, specialises in oil refinery decontamination and chemical cleaning. It has engaged with the Eco-Innovation Cheshire and Warrington project to team up with the University of Chester’s Department of Chemical Engineering to develop and optimise a formulation to decontaminate refinery and petrochemical equipment. This will reduce the impact of the decontamination process on the environment.

The Eco-Innovation project is part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund and is partnered with Lancaster University.
Decontamination of refinery and petrochemical equipment is an essential process to ensure the safety of the personnel involved in the maintenance work and significantly reduce the shutdown time. ProDecon has developed a process that will decontaminate equipment by using eco-friendly chemistry that produces very little waste.

Mark McSorley, Managing Director at ProDecon, said: “Scheduled plant shutdowns are extremely resource intensive events, in which time is definitely money. Our highly engineered cleaning technology is able to reduce time, energy and waste and therefore carbon emissions. This is clearly very attractive to our customers.”

The formulation is being developed in the University’s laboratory, utilising the facilities and expertise of both the University and ProDecon. A series of carefully planned experiments has optimised the formulation, which is now being tested in real conditions at a pilot unit located at Thornton Science Park.

MRes research student, Georgios Balia, has been carrying out the work at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park. “I have to be a generalist in this job,” he explains, “since I need to work in the lab one day, on the pilot plant the next and on a real refinery the next.”

He added, “It is very exciting for me to be working closely with a Cheshire based company to develop new world leading products to help the environment.”