UOP licenses coal-to-olefins process to China plant

China's Jiangsu Sailboat Petrochemical Co. has licensed the advanced methanol-to-olefin (MTO) process of Honeywell's UOP to convert methanol from gasified coal into olefins, the companies said on Thursday.

It is the fourth licensing win for UOP's advanced MTO process technology. The technology allows petrochemical producers in China and elsewhere to tap cheaper coal and natural gas feedstocks, rather than liquefied petroleum gas or oil, to produce ethylene and propylene to meet growing demand for petrochemicals.

All four MTO licenses have been in China, which possesses large coal reserves but imports the bulk of its petroleum.

"Jiangsu Sailboat will be able to help meet China's growing demand for ethylene and propylene by using methanol derived from cheaper and more abundant coal, maximizing yields of high-value petrochemicals and reducing operating costs," said Pete Piotrowski, senior vice president and general manager of UOP's process technology and equipment business unit.

"UOP continues to see high interest in this breakthrough technology and expects the first licensed unit in China to enter production this year," he added.

Once built, the Jiangsu Sailboat unit is expected to be the largest single-train MTO unit in the world, producing 833,000 tpy of ethylene and propylene. The unit will also provide feedstock to downstream units producing 4 million tpy of petrochemical products. Located in Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, China, the unit is expected to start up in 2015.

In addition to technology licensing, UOP will provide engineering, training, technical service, catalysts, adsorbents and specialty equipment for the project.

The advanced MTO process, jointly developed by Honeywell's UOP and INEOS, combines Honeywell's UOP/Hydro MTO process and the Total/UOP Olefin Cracking process, which significantly increases yields and efficiency when combined with MTO. The process converts methanol from non-crude oil sources such as coal or natural gas into ethylene and propylene.

Based on proprietary UOP catalysts, Honeywell's UOP advanced MTO process provides high yields with low operating costs, the company says. MTO also offers flexibility in the amount of propylene and ethylene produced, so operators can adjust plant designs to most effectively address market demands.

Since 2011, UOP has announced three other MTO projects. The first project will be with Wison (Nanjing) Clean Energy. The facility is expected to start up this year, and it is projected to produce 295,000 tpy of ethylene and propylene.

Shandong Yangmei Hengtong Chemicals will also produce 295,000 tpy of ethylene and propylene  and it is expected to start up in 2014.

Jiutai Energy (Zhungeer) Co. licensed Honeywell's UOP/Hydro MTO process, and it is expected to produce 600,000 tpy of ethylene and propylene in its facility, which is expected to start up in 2014.

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