APIC ’08: Coal-based methanol set for China boom

27 May 2008 16:58  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--China’s coal-based production of feedstock methanol is set to boom on the back of the potential demand from the acetic acid and dimethyl ether (DME) production sectors, said an industry consultant on Tuesday.


Extensive plans had been made to ramp up methanol production, added Victor Peng, a consultant of the acetyls and methanol sector at Tecnon Orbichem on the sidelines of the Asian Petroleum Industry Conference 2008 (APIC) in Singapore.


More than 80% of new methanol capacity in China expected to come on stream from 2008-2010 was coal-based, he said.


China had recently overtaken the US in acetic acid production and currently accounted for 28% of global output and was expected to become a net exporter by 2014, said Peng.


Meanwhile, DME production capacity was set to more than double by 2015 to 12m tonnes/year, he added.


The proportion of methanol-based acetic acid production to the currently dominant ethylene and ethanol-based manufacturing techniques was set to change and this would in turn spark demand for feedstock methanol, he added.


Coal-based methanol production was more economical compared with using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or the currently dominant feedstock, crude oil, which saw prices hitting historical highs last week of $135/bbl, he said. 


DME also offered the same potential for growth as acetic acid in terms of using coal-based methanol feedstock, Peng said.


Citing similarities in its physical properties to LPG, he said DME could be a possible alternative for use to diesel fuel and could be both distributed and stored in the same way.


Prepared through the dehydration of methanol, DME is currently widely used as an aerosol propellant in hair sprays and blended into LPG for cooking purposes in China.


The APIC conference runs from 27-28 May.


ICIS and The Chemical Daily have produced an official 84-page, special publication on Asian petrochemicals for the APIC event

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By: Bohan Loh
+65 6780 4359

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