Much-needed innovation in chemistry

Musicality and engineering in one: this typifies lead process engineer Jonas Byns. When he is not working for Project ONE, he plays trumpet in various marching bands and wind orchestras. This is how he got to know his husband. He still finds the time to dedicate himself to his love of music in between his many business trips.

As Lead Process Engineer, he contributes to the technical heart of Project ONE: the ethane cracker. Together with his team, he goes in search of the safest and most energy-efficient processes for producing ethylene. “It’s our job to make sure the technology meets all standards, so we can build this plant with confidence.”

The future is coming to Antwerp

It has been 25 years since a chemical project of this magnitude was launched in Europe. For Jonas, who previously worked at INEOS’ polymer plant in Lillo for 8 years, this was the deciding factor in choosing Project ONE. “I see it as a unique opportunity to be involved in an initiative that helps the chemical industry in Antwerp move towards climate neutrality with the most innovative techniques.”

Jonas and his team find these techniques among various technology partners. “We consult with them and visit factories to see if their solutions meet our requirements and European standards. That’s why there is a lot of travel involved. I regularly speak to my team in Paris, for example. It’s a very international group.

My job is very varied and brings me into contact with different cultures and ways of working: very exciting.”

A new benchmark

“By travelling we also discover many innovations that are already better known outside Europe. We are bringing them to Antwerp with Project ONE. Consider, for example, the use of a share of hydrogen to heat ovens or integrations whereby residual heat can be used elsewhere. All these techniques will certainly pay off, because we have calculated that Project ONE’s emissions will be significantly lower than other steam crackers in Europe. Our factory is thus tightening emission standards, forcing other crackers to reduce their emissions too.”

For Jonas, it is a good thing that a chemical project of this order of magnitude is finally coming to Europe. “We must take steps today to bring the necessary innovation to the chemical industry. If we do nothing, an ethane cracker that meets less stringent emission standards than European ones is guaranteed to be built elsewhere in the world. We will keep working to get to net zero. I hope other countries and continents will follow.”

“We must take steps today to bring the necessary innovation to the chemical industry.”

Perspectives for everyone

According to Jonas, collaborating on Project ONE is a golden opportunity for every engineer, whether you are a recent graduate or have many years of experience. “You only get the chance to participate in such a large project in the chemical hub of Europe once in a lifetime. As a junior, this is the ideal way to experience first-hand how a factory and the chemical sector are structured. You work with them from the start and build up experience quickly: a boost for your career. Mediors and seniors can give their careers a new twist here. They will have the opportunity to use their expertise to help guide the project. You really have an impact here, because INEOS relies on your experience and there is room for initiative. All this in a relaxed atmosphere. Job security is also assured at INEOS, because career paths have already been mapped out for when the construction of Project ONE has been completed.”

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