April 2013

Special Report: Petrochemical Developments

High-pressure polyethylene: Reemergence as a specialty chemical or not?

The analysis results indicate that, while investment capital for new plants favors LLDPE, plant profitability—which is a function of product slate (revenue) and cost—is, in many cases, higher for LDPE plants.

Just over 30 years ago, the first third-party commercial license was signed for a low-pressure gas-phase polyethylene (PE) process. This development ushered in the age of the linear-low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). Benefits of the LLDPE process were stated as lower capital investment and much lower energy costs. At the time, it appeared that the conventional high-pressure tubular and autoclave processes for low-density polyethylene (LDPE) had been eclipsed by new technology. Result: Investment in high-pressure PE plants came to a halt. Mature PE technology However, history indicates that such a dire forecast was premature for several reasons. First, LLDPE processes use catalysts that ar

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