Electric Heaters for Propane Dehydrogenation in Petrochemical Industry

Can you find the circulation heater in this photo?

In the summer months, it’s hard to link propane with anything but the sweet, smoky aroma of barbeque. But in the petrochemical industry propane’s usefulness extends beyond the BBQ, fueling the creation of some of our most used products.

Derived from propane, propylene is one of the most prolific and versatile materials. Its uses include everything from plastics to clothing to packaging. It is also common in manufacturing, used in injection molding and fibers, as well as creating cumene, oxides, and oxo alcohols. 

From manufacturing to packaging to the product itself, propylene touches nearly every product on the market. 

The importance and widespread use of propylene leaves a risk of the supply falling short of the demand. As such, more efficient techniques are a necessity. To this end, propane dehydrogenation is an important technology, as it can directly produce propylene.

Propane Dehydrogenation

Propane dehydrogenation (PDH) is a catalytic technology, converting propane into propylene.  Global propylene shortages and rising prices make this technology especially important. The ability to directly produce propylene from propane makes this a more efficient method of production. Advances in propane dehydrogenation are further improving the efficiency of PDH.

Propane dehydrogenation is broken down into two main steps:

  1. Dehydrogenation of the hydrocarbon feed
  2. Removing hydrogen formed by a dehydrogenation reaction


This separation process produces propylene, as well as making other important chemicals and materials available.

PDH Plants

Propane dehydrogenation plants are on the rise as producers strive to meet market demands. Saudi Arabia already has four PDH plants operating, with production capacities ranging from 420 KTA to 455 KTA.

The dehydrogenation plants operate at temperatures, in excess of 600℃.

Evolving Technology

While the ability to directly produce propylene from propane makes PDH an important technique, it faced some hurdles that kept it from being a major production method until recently. PDH suffered from high costs of production, equipment, and of building and installing propane dehydrogenation plants and technology.

Newer solutions, like CATOFIN dehydrogenation, are helping to resolve some of these challenges. They reduce the costs of operation and increase efficiency, making CATOFIN PDH projects more profitable. To achieve this, however, the plants need to operate at higher temperatures, and the equipment is more susceptible to choking.


Immersion Heaters

Electric petrochemical heaters are helping to take on these challenges. Electric heaters are capable of generating higher temperatures quickly, and can operate and maintain these temperatures efficiently. Their speed allows electric PDH heaters to increase production rates, and their efficiency keeps operating costs low.

As well, electric PDH heaters have simple designs that make them more reliable and easy to maintain. The ease of maintenance and customizability of materials help to reduce the risks of choking. As a result, equipment lasts longer and production remains consistent.

Electric PDH Heaters

Wattco custom manufactures electric petrochemical and PDH heaters. Our team of engineers works with you to select the ideal heater type, configuration, and materials to match the budget and needs of your project. Wattco has earned a trusted reputation for high-quality, reliable electric heaters and heating systems.

Contact Wattco today for petrochemical heater quotes and information.