Since the novel coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, medical supplies such as masks and protective gears have been in urgent need. Giving full play to full business value chain, CNPC retools and expands its production within a short notice to churn out much-needed products like masks and relevant raw materials. Now, as 21mask production lines become operational, CNPC is able to produce 1.5 million masks on a daily basis, which helps to narrow the supply deficit in the market.

Surgical masks and N95 respirators consist of three layers of nonwoven fabrics: the outer layer is waterproof to shield out respiratory droplets exhaled by the infected; the middle layer is a filter that provides the major protection, usually made of 20g polypropylene melt-blown fabric; and the inner layer is ordinary nonwoven fabric.

The key material for producing surgical mask is the melt-blown nonwoven fabric. It uses polypropylene as the main raw material and has a fiber diameter of only 1-5 microns. Such a superfine fiber with unique capillary structure increases the number and surface area of fibers per unit area of fabric, thus the melt-blown fabric has good performance in filtering, shielding, insulating and oil absorption, which makes it a popular raw material for air and liquid filtration, insulation, absorbent, masks, thermal isol ation, wipes, and so on. It is estimated that, the production of 5 billion surgical masks (with three layers of nonwoven fabrics) requires about 100,000 tons of melt-blown nonwoven fabrics.

CNPC builds its own melt-blown fabric production lines

Medical consumables such as masks, protective suits, and disinfectants is an important branch of petrochemical products. The production of petrochemical intermediates such as polyolefin is a key part of the industry chain of medical consumables. As a major supplier of raw materials for medical purposes in China, CNPC is an upstream producer of polypropylene in the mask industry chain. In order to ease the short supply in the midstream market of melt-blown fabric, CNPC, relying on independent R&D efforts and established partnerships, successfully developed its own proprietary polypropylene raw material for melt-blown fabric on February 28. At the same time, Lanzhou Petrochemical and Liaoyang Petrochemical each began to build two melt-blown fabric production lines, which will add an annual capacity of 2200 tons once completed and put into operation in April.

CNPC’s production of raw materials for medical supplies

Polypropylene raw materials, such as S2040 and NX40S,
for masks and medical nonwoven fabrics

Sodium hypochlorite solution as the raw material for disinfectants

Ethylene oxide as the raw material for disinfectants

Current total production capacity

Current total production capacity

Current total production capacity

tons/day

tons/month

tons/day

CNPC subsidiaries ramp up mask production

China national petroleum corporation