Chemical and Petroleum Machine Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chemical and Petroleum Machine Building


the branch of machine building that manufactures production equipment and integrated production lines and installations for the chemical, petrochemical, petroleum, and gas industries. It arose at the end of the 19th century and developed on a broad front in the 1960’s and 1970’s in many countries in connection with the accelerated development of the chemical industry and of petroleum and gas production. The rapid development of these sectors was the result of a high level of capital investment, large-scale re-equipping and an improvement in the structuring of production assets, and a sharp increase in the share of total expenditures for machines and equipment.

Qualitative changes in chemistry and petrochemistry have led to the use of new forms of raw materials—namely, petroleum, petroleum products, by-product gas, and natural gas—in the manufacture of organic and some inorganic products. This has resulted in a significant increase in the unit capacities of production equipment and installations. The demand for large-scale machines and equipment has also grown, which has led to an expansion of the production of large-scale chemical and petroleum equipment.

The production of chemical and petroleum equipment in Russia began at the turn of the 20th century in the Ukraine for the sugar industry and in Azerbaijan for petroleum production. Very simple mechanical equipment was produced by semicottage enterprises. Chemical and petroleum machine building in the USSR has undergone significant development. It served as a basis for the development of several chemical and petrochemical plants, but, until the mid-1960’s, it was distributed among various branches of machine building. In 1965, chemical and petroleum machine building was made a separate industry, responsible for the development, manufacture, and supply of equipment for the chemical, petroleum refining, petrochemical, petroleum production, gas, microbiological, and pulp and paper industries, as well as for ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, power engineering, shipbuilding, and food processing.

Between 1966 and 1976, chemical and petroleum machine building became one of the leading branches of Soviet machine building. The largest plants include the following: Uralkhimmash in Sverdlovsk, Dzerzhinskkhimmash in Gorky Oblast, Penz-khimmash in Penza, the Frunze Machine-building Plant in Sumy, the Bolshevik Plant in Kiev, the G. K. Petrov Petroleum Machine-building Plant in Volgograd, and Tiazhbummash in Petrozavodsk. Most chemical and petroleum machine-building plants have been entirely or partially reconstructed and reequipped, and a series of new shops and enterprises have been constructed and equipped with modern machines. Special facilities have been constructed for the production of large-scale equipment. At the same time, the scientific research and testing base has been expanded and strengthened.

Modern chemical and petroleum machine building includes several subdivisions that develop and manufacture specialized equipment, including equipment for the chemical, polymer, and petroleum industries, papermaking machines, and equipment for the petroleum refining industry; they also produce equipment for general industrial use, such as compressors, refrigeration units, various types of pumps, and air-fractionating, gas-purification, and pipeline equipment. Between 1966 and 1976, the total output of the chemical machine-building industry increased by a factor of 2.8, including an increase in the output of chemical equipment by a factor of 2.3, an increase in the output of equipment for the paper industry by a factor of 3.7, an increase in the output of petroleum equipment by a factor of 2.2, and an increase in the output of refrigeration equipment by a factor of 3.1. The output of petroleum rigs, air compressors, pumps, and oxygen units also increased. During this period, more than 3,000 prototypes of new machines and instruments were produced, including many modern, large-scale, integrated equipment systems. More than 2,700 types of new equipment and instruments have been put into production at industrial enterprises. The range of physical parameters under which the manufactured equipment operates, such as pressure and temperature, has also been expanded significantly, and the efficiency, resistance to corrosion, and reliability have been improved.

Complex production lines and installations for the chemical and petrochemical industries are produced for the manufacture of ammonia, ammonium nitrate, and Ammophos (ammonium phosphate) and Nitroammophoska fertilizers; for primary and secondary petroleum refining; for catalytic cracking and reforming; for the production of ethylene, polyethylene, and protein-vitamin concentrates; and for the forming and vulcanization of tires. New types of equipment with improved operating parameters have been developed for these facilities, such as automated FPAKM filter presses (which are licensed to firms in several capitalist countries), improved heat exchangers, enameled steel reactors and tanks, rolled steel vessels, centrifuges, and separators.

Equipment manufactured for the petroleum and gas industries includes apparatus for the combined or separate exploitation of several petroleum strata at a single well, self-propelled units for effecting major repairs on oil wells, gas transport installations with gas turbine engines, and purification and separation machines for major gas pipelines.

Production runs have begun for papermaking and cardboard-making machines with improved technology, powerful pumps for main-line canals and irrigation systems, new oxygen units, absorption refrigerators, and other types of equipment.

Production lines, installations, and individual types of equipment with expanded unit capacities have been developed and are now being manufactured. Between 1971 and 1975, the unit capacities of many equipment systems increased by a factor of 2–3, and, in some instances, by a factor of 4–5. Thus, the annual output of production lines for ammonia has increased during this period from 100,000 tons to 400,000–450,000 tons; for Ammophos fertilizer, from 150,000 to 540,000 tons; for ammonium nitrate, from 200,000 to 450,000–500,000 tons; for Nitrophoska fertilizer, from 100,000 to 300,000 tons; and for Nitroammophoska fertilizer, from 100,000 to 540,000 tons. The unit capacities have doubled for petroleum refining installations, tripled for newsprint production units, and increased by a factor of 5 for ethylene and polyethylene production units. This increase in the unit capacities of equipment ensures a decrease in unit costs, an increase in labor productivity, and a decrease in the costs of the manufactured products in industries and plants using such equipment.

In the 1960’s deliveries began for integrated production lines and plant units manufactured to a high degree of prefabrication for assembly at construction sites under contract supervision. The integrated production of large equipment systems facilitates a reduction in the time required for installation at construction sites, a more rapid introduction of new projects, and an increase in the productivity of capital investments. Between 1971 and 1975, the volume of integrated equipment manufactured doubled and totaled more than 1 billion rubles; this permitted an accelerated growth in output in the chemical, petrochemical, and other industries.

Enterprises and organizations in chemical and petroleum machine building in the USSR are responsible for the design, manufacture, and supply of equipment for the rapidly developing mineral fertilizer industry. The production of such equipment nearly quadrupled between 1971 and 1975. Integrated production lines, which form the basis for the highly efficient, large-scale production of mineral fertilizers and their raw materials, occupy a major place in the manufacture of such equipment.

The export of chemical and petroleum equipment is increasing as a result of the improved technology demonstrated by equipment and increased production levels. The total volume of such exports increased by 40 percent between 1971 and 1975. Equipment was delivered to more than 250 sites abroad, including plants for the production of isoprene rubber and cyclohexanone in Rumania, plants in Czechoslovakia that produce phosphoric acid by burning elemental phosphorus, an alumina plant in Yugoslavia, the nuclear power plant at Lovisa in Finland, and a petroleum refining plant in France.

The USSR has become a general supplier of equipment to a number of foreign construction and renovation projects through cooperative efforts in the field of technology; such projects include gas refineries in Hungary, a chemical fiber plant in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, a machine-building plant in Cuba, air-fractionating installations at the Leunawerke combine in the German Democratic Republic, oxygen installations at a metallurgical plant in Rumania and a chemical combine at Pulawy, Poland, and drainage and irrigation projects in Iraq.

Chemical and petroleum machine building also occupied an important place in the economies of the other socialist countries in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It underwent the greatest growth in the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania, and it developed significantly in Hungary, Poland, and Bulgaria.

Chemical and petroleum machine building in the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) is developing in accord with the Comprehensive Program of 1971, which envisions the coordination of national economic plans, mutually beneficial specialization, and the cooperation of member countries in the development and production of specific types of equipment. Design work and production practice based on wide-ranging cooperation characterize the manufacture of integrated production lines for phosphoric acid, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid, installations for drilling various types of wells, and equipment for the processing of plastics and for paper production.

Bilateral cooperation in the science, technology, and manufacturing techniques of chemical and petroleum machine building has also become very common between COMECON member countries. Plants in the USSR and Czechoslovakia are jointly developing and producing equipment for the large-scale manufacture of ammonia, ethylene, and synthetic rubber. Specialists from the USSR and the German Democratic Republic have cooperated in the development of a production process and equipment for the large-scale manufacture of polyethylene by the Polimir-50 high-pressure method.

Cooperation in science, technology, and production techniques among the socialist countries ensures the accelerated development of chemical and petroleum machine building and an increase in the mutual supply of products. As a result, the volume of such shipments between the USSR and the other COMECON member countries between 1976 and 1980 increased by a factor of 2.5, as compared with 1971–75.

In the capitalist countries, chemical and petroleum machine building is concentrated primarily in a small group of industrially developed countries: the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The relative output of these countries is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Distribution of production of equipment for the chemical industry and allied sectors among selected capitalist countries (percent of total output)
USA ...............48.452.5
Federal Republic of Germany ...............13.211.6
Japan ...............13.1124
Great Britain ...............12.510.0
France ...............7.07.5
Italy ...............5.86.0

The USA is the largest producer of chemical and related types of equipment in the capitalist world. In 1974 the volume of production of chemical and related equipment reached $2.8 billion in the USA. The leading Western European producer of chemical equipment is the Federal Republic of Germany, which produced chemical and related equipment valued at $620 million in 1974. Chemical and petroleum machine building has also undergone extensive development in Japan, where equipment valued at $660 million was produced in 1974. During the same year France produced chemical and related equipment worth $400 million.


Palterovich, D. M. Razvitie khimicheskogo mashinostroeniia v SSSR i osnovnykh kapitalisticheskikh stranakh (1958–1964 gg.). Moscow. 1965.
Brekhov, K. I. Khimicheskoe i neftianoe mashinostroenie v vos’moi piatiletke. Moscow, 1971.
Ekonomika khimicheskogo mashinostroeniia. Moscow, 1971.
Kasatkin, A. G. Osnovnye protsessy i apparaty khimicheskoi tekhnologii. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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