InterviewNew MEG technology presents cost savings: Eastman exec

28 October 2013 23:08  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--Eastman Chemical and Johnson Matthey Davy’s advanced monoethylene glycol (MEG) production technology offers cost savings over conventional MEG processes, an Eastman executive said on Monday.

“Against the current ethylene-based producers of MEG, we see our process as being in the first or second quartile of the cash cost curve for MEG production depending on feedstock costs," said Bruce Gustafson, director of international ventures at Eastman, in an interview with ICIS. "However, in regions offering low-cost [synthesis gas] and methanol from shale gas or stranded coal or natural gas, then we see our process as offering the lowest cash cost route."

The US-based chemicals firm announced last week that it has developed an advanced technology for MEG production with UK petrochemicals technology firm Johnson Matthey Davy. The technology enables the production of MEG from a variety of raw materials, including coal, natural gas or biomass.

The advanced technology router involves a two-step, single-line process based on synthesis gas (syngas) and methanol.  In contrast to other syngas-based technologies, the process does not go through an oxalate intermediate. 

“Any feedstock that can be readily converted to synthesis gas can be used to make MEG with our technology,” Gustafson said.

The technology offers customers who have access to low-cost syngas the opportunity to be competitive to ethylene-based MEG production, he added.

The technology development was originally initiated by Eastman several years ago as part of the "Chemicals from Coal" platform to support internal demand for polyester production. Johnson Matthey Davy, a global licensor of methanol technology, has an interest in developing derivative technologies, and MEG complements its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and diol technologies. 

“This mutual interest, and a prior successful collaboration between the two companies, formed the basis for our partnership in developing this advanced MEG technology. As Eastman’s interests shifted from PET manufacturing, the MEG project continued based on the value we see this technology bringing to the marketplace,” Gustafson said.

Eastman’s pilot-scale demonstration is nearing completion, and the technology is available for licensing. Discussions are underway with qualified candidates, and a license is expected to be granted in 2014, Gustafson said.

Eastman expects to generate a consistent income stream from licensing the technology. Demand for the MEG technology should be “fairly strong”, Eastman CEO Jim Rogers told analysts during Eastman’s Q3 earnings call.

Additional reporting by Stefan Baumgarten

By: Feliza Mirasol
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