July 2014

HPI Focus: Changing HPI Economics

Ethanol-to-ethylene process provides alternative pathway to plastics

Tight operating margins make the ethanol-to-ethylene technology marketplace a challenging space in which to compete. However, a new, second-generation route can deliver market-leading conversion efficiency at lower cost and complexity than existing technologies.

Cook, D., Hodge, S., Moffatt, C., BP Downstream Technology, Conversion Technology Center

Tight operating margins make the ethanol-to-ethylene technology marketplace a challenging space in which to compete. However, a new, second-generation route can deliver market-leading conversion efficiency at lower cost and complexity than existing technologies. The combination of a proprietary catalyst and milder operating conditions is ultra-selective toward ethylene. More than 24,000 hours of pilot-plant testing has been completed to demonstrate this new technology. Technology overview Ethanol is dehydrated to form ethylene and water over a supported heteropolyacid (HPA) catalyst. The reaction takes place in two steps: Partial dehydration to diethyl ether and water, which occurs

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