US Celanese technology could boost methanol industry - exec

23 May 2012 21:44  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US Celanese’s new technology to make ethanol from natural gas or coal could give a boost to the methanol industry, a top executive for the company said on Wednesday.

“We think this is a tremendous opportunity for both Celanese as well as the entire methanol industry,” said Steven Sterin, Celanese’s chief finanical officer and president of its Advanced Fuel Technologies unit, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Basic Materials Conference in New York.

The link to methanol comes from it being a feedstock for acetic acid, which is used as an intermediary in Celanese’s new TCX technology, according to a recent patent.

Sterin said Celanese sees two uses for the ethanol to be made from its TCX technology.

One would be industrial ethanol, used as solvent in hand cleaners.

But the other and much larger use for it would be in fuel ethanol to power cars and trucks, especially in countries such as China, where Celanese already has received government approval to build a TCX plant.

Sterin said making fuel ethanol with Celanese’s technology would be a notable achievement for the methanol industry as well.

“Both of us can get our products into the fuel pool, which is what the chemical industry has been trying to do for many years,” Sterin said.

Sterin added that the low price of natural gas in the US is a great advantage for Celanese in the near future, though he doubted that current prices in the $2-$3 (€1.6-2.3)/MMBtu range would last much longer.

However, Sterin said the consensus in the chemical industry seems to be that US natural gas prices will stay below $5 for the next few years.

“I certainly wouldn’t count on $2/MMBtu gas,” Sterin said. “Our model doesn’t count on it. It counts more on a long-term value for gas in the $5 range.”

($1 = €0.79)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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