IRPC ’14: Ethanol to EO/EG technologies may fill need for green glycols

VERONA, Italy -- Ethanol to ethylene oxide (EO) and ethylene glycol (EG) technologies could become more popular in coming years to address a niche but growing market for "green" glycols.

Sanjeev Goyal, project manager at Scientific Design Company, spoke about this trend in the petrochemicals track at the 2014 International Refining and Petrochemical Conference (IRPC).

Goyal explained that recent interest in green mono ethylene glycol (MEG) was driven by strong market interest in areas such as green PET bottles (Coca-Cola), green PET film for packaging (Nestle, P&G), green anti-freeze (Toyota) and green plastics for high-end automobiles (Toyota).

"By 2018, green MEG production could be more than 30% of total MEG used in PET [polyethylene terephthalate]," Goyal said.

By number, that would be almost 3,000 KT of green MEG production -- up from about 400 in the current year of 2014.

Goyal explained that his company's integrated ethanol to EO/EG process offers several competitive advantages, including the flexibility to design for excess bio-ethylene production with a quality suitable for other downstream products such as vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and high-density polyethlyne (HDPE).

Scientific Design, which has 25 years of operating experience with bio-EO/EG, notes that its process producers fiber-grade MEG quality -- the same as with petro-ethylene. Moreover, the company says it has strong research and development (R&) support for continuous improvements in process efficiency and the handling of ethanol from traditional and second-generation raw materials.

"This process addresses a niche but growing market for green glycol," he said. "It's a viable option fo rregions where petro-ethylene is either too expensive or not accessible. It also provides flexibility to switch between petro- and bio-ethylene based on factors such as current raw material costs and market demands."

The Scientific Design technology can also be a major process link for other ethylene- or EO/EG-based bio-products, Goyal explained.

IRPC 2014 runs through Thursday. For more details, visit the HPInformer blog or the event website.

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