UOP licenses catalytic dehydrogenation technology to China isobutylene unit

Technology from Honeywell's UOP has been selected to produce key ingredients for fuels and synthetic rubber in China, officials announced on Wednesday.

China's Panjin Heyun New Material Co. will use UOP's C4 Oleflex process to produce isobutylene, a key ingredient for fuels and synthetic rubber. This is UOP's third C4 Oleflex license in China this year.

Panjin Heyun New Material Co. will also use UOP's Butamer process, which converts normal butane to isobutane, thereby maximizing the feedstock utilization to the Oleflex process.

Southeast Asia is the world's largest producer of rubber, and China is the largest consumer, accounting for 33% of the world's rubber consumption, according to a 2012 report. China's economy is expected to grow about 8% this year, further increasing the country's need for key materials.

"As China's economy grows, and the need for fuels and rubber rises worldwide, UOP is providing solutions that help producers maximize their output to support demands locally, while capturing a high return on investment," said Pete Piotrowski, senior vice president and general manager of Honeywell's UOP process technology and equipment business.

"UOP technology is currently being used in China to produce about 5 million metric tons annually of key petrochemicals, and we look forward to working with Panjin to continue supporting the country's efforts," he added.

The new unit, which is expected to start up in 2014, will process approximately 400,000 tpy of isobutane feedstock at its facility in Liaoning Province, China. UOP will provide the engineering design, technology licensing, catalysts, adsorbents, equipment, staff training and technical service for the project.

The C4 Oleflex process uses catalytic dehydrogenation to convert isobutane to isobutylene. Compared with competing processes, UOP says its Oleflex technology provides the lowest cash cost of production, the highest return on investment and the smallest environmental footprint, enabled by high isobutylene yields, low energy and water consumption, and use of a fully recyclable platinum alumina-based catalyst system.

In addition, unique to the Oleflex process, independent reaction and regeneration systems are in place that allow continuous use of catalysts for steady-state operations (non swing-bed), which helps maximize operating flexibility, on-stream factor and reliability.

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