By Nick Gilbert
UOP, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, has licensed its methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology to Chinese company Jiutai Energy for conversion of methanol from coal into critical components necessary for plastic production.
The MTO technology from UOP transforms methanol present in gasified natural gas or coal into ethylene and propylene which are the most essential components of packaging, plastics, films and other petrochemicals.
China is known to possess huge reserves of coal. The United States Energy Information Administration estimates China to account for almost 50% of the global coal production. This makes coal an attractive alternative for China to use as raw materials in petrochemical production. The MTO technology facilitates this alternative deployment instead of relying on the more costly petroleum.
The annual capacity of the ethylene and propylene facility of Jiutai at Ordos City in the Inner Mongolia Province of China is expected to be 600,000 metric tons. The project is scheduled to commence operations from 2014. Honeywell UOP will provide the specialty equipment, adsorbents, catalysts, training and technical services required for commissioning the project in addition to the licensed technology.
The MTO process was developed by UOP in conjunction with INEOS. The technology employs the proprietary catalysts developed by UOP to generate high yields of ethylene and propylene with the least possible byproduct production. Another benefit of the MTO technology is the flexibility offered to manufacturers in terms of quantity of ethylene and propylene that can be generated by modifying the plant design to suit the market demands. This is UOP’s second such commercial installation of the MTO technology in China.