Plastic food containers. Milk jugs. Aspirin. Telephones. Thanks to Williams, an energy company based in Tulsa, Okla., these are just a few items that are put on store shelves across the United States.
For 100 years, Williams quietly has grown into a multibillion dollar energy and high technology company. One of the most innovative ideas in American business began in 1986 when Williams ran fiber-optic cable through decommissioned pipelines. Today, Williams is a global leader in energy.
Williams Olefins, a business unit of Williams, is the operator of the jointly owned world class ethylene production facility located near Geismar, La., where approximately 1.95 billion pounds of polymer grade ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene are produced annually.
Polymer grade ethylene and propylene are known as monomers, which are building blocks for many types of plastics and resins. Ethylene and propylene serve as the chemical "backbone" for many consumer products. Different combinations of monomers are polymerized or linked together to form polymers or plastic resins with different properties and characteristics.
The production process begins with the introduction of ethane or propane feedstocks combined with steam into "cracking furnaces" that heat the gas to about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit under relatively low pressure. Valuable hydrocarbon products are formed by this "cracking" process. The cracked gas is cooled, compressed then separated into the individual products. Final products of the process include polymer grade ethylene and propylene that are transported by pipeline to our customers.
A 50-mile pipeline network distributes ethylene from Geismar to our customers at other petrochemical facilities. This pipeline is tied to storage facilities that minimize interruptions of product delivery. Connections with other pipeline systems allow the transport of ethylene throughout the gulf coast region. Additionally, a pipeline system is utilized to deliver polymer grade propylene to petrochemical customers.
Polymerized ethylene or polyethylene, first discovered in 1933, has had an enormous impact on the world. Thanks to polyethylene the weight of vital military radar equipment was reduced enough to allow installation onto airplanes during World War II. Airborne radar allowed Allied aircraft to detect enemy bombers under difficult conditions such as nightfall and thunderstorms.
After the war plastics such as polyethylene became a tremendous hit with consumers. Today polyethylene and other ethylene derivatives are used to make such common items as soda bottles, grocery and dry-cleaning bags, insulation, pharmaceuticals, antifreeze, mouthwashes, adhesives, food wrap, diaper covers, cosmetics and appliance parts.
Propylene and propylene derivatives are used to make items such as carpet fibers, microwave containers, rubbing alcohol, pharmaceuticals, rope, tape, plastic bottles, luggage, housewares, tire cord, detergents, suntan lotion, coatings and paints, and furniture.
Think about the impact of plastic on your daily life. Energy conservation due to lightweight materials, safety, sterilization, packaging, and entertainment are just some ways plastics influence our lives daily. If you want to see the many varied benefits of plastics in use at one time, look no further than your refrigerator. Not only does it hold plastic bottles, meat packages, fruit and vegetable bags and reusable containers for leftovers, the modern refrigerator is itself made using several kinds of plastics. Products you use everyday at your job such as pagers, cellular phones, fax machines and computers rely on plastics for their construction and performance. Automobile bumpers, lighting systems, trim, upholstery, instrument panels, steering wheels, air ducts, switches, circuit boards, transmission parts, fuel system and engine components consist of various plastics.
Ethylene and propylene produced at Williams Olefins are utilized to make products used by all of us. Williams Olefins, a part of our daily lives.
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