Jiutai licenses UOP methanol-to-olefins technology for China coal project

China's Jiutai Energy has licensed the methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology of Honeywell's UOP for a new project in Ordos City, China, the companies said on Thursday.

The UOP/Hydro MTO process converts methanol from gasified coal or natural gas to produce high yields of ethylene and propylene.

The breakthrough technology allows producers to tap abundant coal resources, rather than more expensive petroleum, to produce petrochemicals, UOP explains.

“UOP's MTO process will allow Jiutai to use methanol derived from cheaper and abundant coal to maximize yields of high-value petrochemicals, reduce operating costs and expand its presence in China's growing ethylene and propylene markets,” said Pete Piotrowski, general manager of UOP’s process technology and equipment business unit.

“This project is another milestone for MTO technology and another example of how this technology can tap cheaper feedstocks such as coal and natural gas to meet the growing global demand for petrochemical products.”

China is the world's largest producer of coal, accounting for nearly half of the world's production, according to the US Energy Information Administration, making it an attractive alternative feedstock for in-country production of plastics building blocks.

Jiutai will produce 600,000 tpy of ethylene and propylene at its facility in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia Province, China.

In addition to technology licensing, UOP is to provide basic engineering, catalysts, adsorbents, specialty equipment, technical services and training for the project, which is expected to start up in 2014.

The MTO process, jointly developed by UOP and INEOS, converts methanol from crude oil and non-crude oil sources such as coal or natural gas to ethylene and propylene.

The process, based on proprietary UOP catalysts, is proven to provide high yields with minimal byproducts, according to the company. MTO also offers flexibility in the quantity of propylene and ethylene produced, so producers can adjust plant designs to most effectively address market demands.

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