April 2017

Special Focus: Petrochemical Developments

Shaping the future of on-purpose propylene production

In the early 2000s, very few analysts predicted the innovation that would change the landscape in the energy, refining and petrochemical sectors over the next several decades.

Pretz, M., Fish, B., Luo, L., Stears, B., DOW Chemical Co.

In the early 2000s, very few analysts predicted the innovation that would change the landscape in the energy, refining and petrochemical sectors over the next several decades. Innovators successfully combined hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to produce unprecedented volumes of shale gas and shale oil. This innovation rapidly enabled petrochemical companies to begin producing ethylene from cheap ethane. Initially, the price of crude oil remained high, which meant that naphtha was rapidly phased out as the preferred feedstock, where feasible, in place of ethane. When the rate of naphtha feed was reduced, the coproduct propylene produced was also reduced. This scenario created an

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