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Methanol-to-olefins plant in China to make coal-based PP a reality

A Chinese firm has selected a Honeywell subsidiary's technology in what will be the first commercial-scale installation of its advanced methanol-to-olefins (MTO) process for the production of petrochemicals from coal and natural gas, with initial plans for 295,000 tonnes/yr of ethylene and propylene production. Wison (Nanjing) Clean Energy Company Ltd.

A Chinese firm has selected a Honeywell subsidiary's technology in what will be the first commercial-scale installation of its advanced methanol-to-olefins (MTO) process for the production of petrochemicals from coal and natural gas, with initial plans for 295,000 tonnes/yr of ethylene and propylene production. Wison (Nanjing) Clean Energy Company Ltd. will receive technology licenses, basic engineering, catalysts, adsorbents, specialty equipment, and technical services from Honeywell subsidiary, UOP LLC (Des Plaines, IL), with startup slated for 2013. UOP estimates that by 2020, 20% of the world's propylene will come from on-purpose technology instead of as a byproduct of other refining activities.

Total's Feluy, Belgium plant
Total Petrochemical's Feluy, Belgium MTO demonstration unit.

This technology is a hybrid of sorts, combining the UOP/Hydro MTO process with Total Petrochemicals/UOP Olefin Cracking Process, with the goal of allowing producers in countries with limited supplies of crude oil, but plentiful quantities of coal or natural gas, to produce high-value petrochemicals.

Almost one year ago, on July 6, UOP and Total Petrochemicals successfully ran a demonstration unit built by Total Petrochemicals at its complex in Feluy, Belgium, which applied UOP/Hydro MTO methanol-to-olefins technology to convert methanol to ethylene and propylene. The propylene was subsequently converted to polypropylene. At the time the companies said the demonstration proved that propylene produced from methanol at a semi-commercial scale could be suitable for plastics production, and now Wison Clean Energy looks to prove that point.

The demonstration unit has run consistently for more than 150 days since its start-up, meeting product yield expectations. Thus far the unit has processed up to 10 tonnes per day of methanol to produce the light olefins ethylene and propylene.

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