Plastics from biomethanol coming soon

The recent startup of a methanol-to-olefins (MTO) demonstration plant in Belgium by Total Petrochemicals proves that plastics can also be produced from biomass-based methane, according to UOP LLC (a Honeywell company), which developed the MTO technology.

“This success demonstrates that the UOP/Hydro technology can produce high-quality propylene, one of the major building blocks for plastics and petrochemicals, from alternative feedstocks,” said Peter Piotrowski, senior vice president and general manager of UOP Process Technology and Equipment. “This technology gives petrochemical producers new, viable alternatives to the use of petroleum by enabling the use of methanol derived from sources such as natural gas, coal or biomass.”

The unit has already processed up to 10 metric tonnes/day of methanol to produce light olefins ethylene and propylene.

Maybe the next step will be waste-based methane to plastics?

4 Responses to Plastics from biomethanol coming soon

  1. John Bain 13 July, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Making plastics from methanol does nothing to reduce CO2 releases to the environment since plastic takes centuries to degrade. It doesn’t matter whether you use petroleum or methanol because the carbon is getting locked up either way.

  2. Walter Breidenstein 14 July, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    The key to this technology at lower or medium size scales will be the cost of methanol production. They have to create jumbo scale methanol plants to make money, unless they can get cheaper methanol.

    The solution to low cost methanol is here:

    Methanol to gasoline (MTG) and to plastics will be the wave of the future!

  3. Kurt Goncher 22 July, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Wrote review paper in 1984 on the new Zeolite zms5 catylist for methanal to HC fuels in fluidic ractors, whats new about this?

  4. Doris de Guzman 16 April, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Hi John,
    I think the idea here is to diversify feedstock more than reducing carbon emissions. It will be interesting to compare carbon emissions using life cycle analysis of traditional petroleum-based plastic to biomass-based plastic that will use this new technology.

    Best Regards,

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