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Braskem, Siluria to develop methane-to-ethylene process technology

01.16.2014  | 

Braskem will help Siluria Technologies to market a process for making ethylene from methane, the largest component of natural gas. The $15 million factory should open in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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By JACK KASKEY

CAMACARI (Bloomberg) -- Braskem agreed to help Siluria Technologies bring to market a novel process for making ethylene from methane, the largest component of natural gas.

Siluria is building a demonstration plant at Braskem’s site in La Porte, Texas, to show how oxidative coupling of methane, or OCM, can produce ethylene, the most used petrochemical and a key ingredient in plastics, the companies said in a statement. The $15 million factory should open in the fourth quarter, Siluria CEO Ed Dineen said.

“This technology is on the leading edge of developments in our industry and is well designed to meet our needs for plentiful, affordable feedstock,” Fernando Musa, CEO of Braskem’s United States unit, said in the statement.

Siluria’s OCM process costs $1 billion a year less than average costs at naphtha crackers that produce ethylene and $250 million cheaper than ethane cracking, based on feedstock costs since 2010, Dineen said in a phone interview. At the heart of the OCM technology are proprietary catalysts that turn methane and oxygen directly into ethylene and water without the high heat used in crackers.

“The use of natural gas as a direct feedstock has been a goal of the chemical-fuel industry for a long time,” Dineen said.

The technology works in existing ethylene plants and also can be added to gas processing plants, which separate methane from natural gas liquids, to turn unprocessed gas into gasoline, Dineen said. The technology would help gas processors and pipeline companies produce a higher value product, particularly when ethane or methane prices are low, he said.

Dineen, who previously was COO at LyondellBasell Industries, said Siluria will announce additional non-exclusive partners in the first half of this year. By 2017, Siluria should have commercial units operating through licensing agreements or partnerships, setting the stage for an initial public offering, Dineen said.

Siluria in March said it had raised $66 million from investors including Alloy Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, The Wellcome Trust, Bright Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Lux Capital and Vulcan Capital.

Honeywell International and Dow Chemical are also developing catalytic conversion processes for natural gas.



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Kamlesh Vakil
01.23.2014

In my 50 years experience such development takes at least 15 years before anyone invest few Billion dollars.
However technology is worth pursuing and worth evaluating

Pedro Iparraguirre
01.20.2014

This process is quite interesting to consider for petrochemical industry in our country, by eliminating the step of separating ethane from natural gas

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