Celanese executives hint at new direction for ethanol technology

21 July 2011 23:08  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Celanese executives are continuing to push the company’s technology, which makes ethanol from natural gas, with comments on Thursday expressing a possible new direction for the US-based chemical producer.

Celanese plans to begin making ethanol from its new TCX technology in 2013, with the initial focus on industrial-grade material used in chemicals, paints and hand sanitisers.

Celanese executives hinted more than once in a conference call on Thursday that the company also could make fuel ethanol, to be blended into gasoline for vehicle use.

Celanese CFO Steven Sterin said that Celanese was “exploring the fuel market” now, although he did not mention the obvious obstacle, US law.

Current federal law, as noted on Celanese’s website, only allows corn-based ethanol to be used as a transportation fuel. The chemical producer wants Congress to change the law to allow ethanol made from natural gas to compete with corn-based ethanol.

Celanese’s position is that competition would favour ethanol made from natural gas because it is cheaper - “an identical ethanol product at about half the cost”, according to its website.

Celanese CEO David Weidman stressed the solution as being one of “multiple options” in achieving energy independence.Weidman cited China as an example of a country using various methods of gasoline blending to lessen its dependence on foreign oil.

“They are going to be blending with methanol,” Weidman said of China. “They are going to be blending with MTBE [methyl tertiary butyl ether]. They are going to be blending with ethanol. The amount of demand growth that there is, and their desire to get out of the import oil game, means there's room for a lot of companies.”

For more on ethanol, visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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