The award recognizes professionals in academia or
industry who have conducted innovative research in
engineering, geology or geophysics, and that research
has been successfully applied to improve our economic
and social well-being.
Dr. C. Michael Oballa, P.Eng., William
L. Wong, P.Eng., Chi M. Wong, P.Eng.,
and Les W. Benum
NOVA Research & Technology Centre
C.M. Wong, P.Eng.
|Dr. C.M. Oballa, P.Eng.
W.L. Wong, P.Eng.
Chemicals operates three ethylene plants in Joffre,
Alberta that crack ethane and a flexi cracker located
at Corunna, Ontario that is able to crack a wide
range of feedstocks. All steam cracking processes face
typical issue of coke formation and deposition on
the furnace coil. NOVA Chemicals wanted to develop
that would reduce coke formation and deposition and
extend the furnace run length.
In response to this technical
challenge, NOVA Research & Technology
Centre (NRTC) in Calgary embarked on a research program
leading to the development of cracking coils that would
have inert surfaces, thus limiting the formation and
deposition of catalytic coke. The research program
was initiated and led by Dr. Michael Oballa, P.Eng.,
in close collaboration with Mr. William Wong, P.Eng.,
Mr. Chi Wong, P.Eng., and Mr. Les Benum.
The project team took an innovative approach to the
problem. Instead of following industry trends and trying
to introduce another material into the cracking coils,
the team focused their attention on the surface properties
of the base metal and took advantage of them during
the surface modification process.
The lab-scale study was conducted using equipment
specially designed by Dr. Oballa and built in-house
at NRTC. The technology has resulted in a new method
of modifying the surface of a stainless steel matrix
to obtain a surface that is inert to coke formation
or deposition in steam crackers.
Over the years, this technology
has gone from the idea stage to full commercialization
and has improved
the typical run length from 30 days to over 400 days.
Since the beginning of 2003, the technology has been
offered commercially and is being marketed world-wide.
It represents the most advanced surface science chemistry
and is the best product on the market to reduce coke
formation and deposition during the steam cracking