02 August 2010 00:02 [Source: ICB]
Total's MTO plant and projects in China could stimulate interest in MTO technologies
Total Petrochemicals is in discussions with potential partners about building an integrated methanol-to-olefins (MTO) and polyolefins project, according to Eric Duchesne, head of research and technology for base chemicals.
The commercial-scale project would have a combined ethylene and propylene production capacity of around 1m tonnes/year, and downstream production would include polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), he continued.
"Technology validation is no longer the critical step for a commercial project," remarked Duchesne, who led the Feluy MTO project. "Now it's more about conducting feasibility studies before getting a project sanctioned."
For the commercial-scale project, access to feedstocks will be crucial. "If you want to start from coal or natural gas, it's important to have a partner," Duchesne observed. Various locations are under consideration, he said, without providing details.
Total already has a significant petrochemical presence in Qatar, where it is a partner in an ethane cracker in Ras Laffan and has downstream production in Mesaieed. Total's refinery project with Saudi Aramco in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, will also produce some petrochemicals. The $8.5bn project, which is being implemented by Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co. (Satorp), is expected to start up in 2013.
Total's semicommercial MTO plant in Feluy is based on MTO technology developed by UOP and Hydro and an Olefins Cracking Process (OCP) developed by UOP and Total. The MTO process converts methanol into ethylene and propylene, as well as heavy olefins, while the OCP technol-ogy uses a catalytic process to convert the heavy olefins into additional ethylene and propylene.
Adding the OCP technology increases the combined ethylene and propylene yield by 10-15%, and increases the ratio of propylene to ethylene, explained Duchesne. "We can reach a ratio of propylene to ethylene of more than two, which is interesting because it is the opposite to that of a naphtha cracker," he added.
"If you want to start from coal or natural gas, it's important to have a partner"
Eric Duchesne, head of research and technology for base chemicals, Total Petrochemicals
MTO technologies in general are becoming more attractive as a result of diminishing ethane supplies in the Middle East. The world's first MTO projects will be located in China, where Datang International Power Generation and Shenhua Baotou Coal Chemical plan to start up plants later this year.
Datang International Power Generation is building a methanol-to-propylene (MTP) project in Duolun, Inner Mongolia, which will produce 460,000 tonne/year of PP. Shenhua Baotou Coal Chemical's MTO project in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, will include a 300,000 tonne/year PE unit and a 300,000 tonne/year PP unit. Shenhua Baotou Coal Chemical is a joint venture between Shenhua Group and Shanghai Huayi Group.
Shenhua Group is also studying an MTO project with Dow Chemical in Yulin, northwestern Shaanxi province. A Dow spokeswoman said the feasibility study was expected to be completed in the coming months.
In addition, Ning Bo Heyuan Chemical Co is planning an MTO project in Ningbo, China, based on DMTO (dimethyl ether or methanol to olefin) technology from China's Syn Energy Technology and Lummus Technology's Olefins Conversion Technology (OCT).
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