Sonatrach to use Honeywell tech to produce clean fuels

DES PLAINES, Ill., Oct. 31, 2018 -- Honeywell (NYSE: HON) announced today that Sonatrach S.p.A. will use a suite of Honeywell UOP technologies to produce 200,000 metric tons per year of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a high-octane gasoline additive that reduces emissions in automobile exhaust.

Honeywell will provide technology licensing, design services, key equipment and state-of-the-art catalysts and adsorbents for the project at Sonatrach’s refinery in Arzew, Algeria.

“With these technologies, Sonatrach can supply MTBE to the region’s refineries to produce fuels that meet increasingly strict specifications, including Euro V,” said Bryan Glover, vice president and general manager of Honeywell UOP’s Process Technology & Equipment business. “As a single licensor of all technologies in the process, Honeywell UOP can provide Sonatrach the greatest value in the shortest timeframe to commissioning.”

MTBE is produced from a chemical reaction between methanol, which typically is derived from natural gas, and isobutylene, which is derived from butane obtained from crude oil or natural gas. Due to its high octane number, it is an effective anti-knocking fuel additive to produce cleaner-burning gasoline.

Included in the technology package is UOP’s Butamer™ technology, which isomerizes normal butane into isobutane. UOP has more than 85 Butamer units currently in operation worldwide.

The package also includes a UOP C4 Oleflex™ unit to dehydrogenate isobutane into isobutylene. C4 Oleflex features low energy consumption, low emissions and a fully recyclable, platinum-alumina-based catalyst system which minimizes environmental impact. This results in a lower cash cost of production, and higher return on investment than competing technologies. Honeywell UOP has been awarded 55 dehydrogenation projects since 2011.

The contract also includes a UOP Ethermax™ unit that converts isobutylene and methanol into a high-octane MTBE blending agent that contains no benzene or aromatics. The Ethermax technology delivers a high MTBE yield and is currently used in 44 units worldwide.

Sonatrach is the largest company in Algeria, employing 120,000 people and accounting for almost one-third of Algeria’s gross national product. Sonatrach operates the Hassi Messaoud oil field, the largest in Algeria, in addition to several other fields.

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