Propylene-based ECH to continue to play dominant role

17 January 2014 16:05 Source:ICIS News

SINGAPORE (ICIS)-Propylene-based epichlorohydrin (ECH) will continue to play dominant roles instead of glycerine-based routes, said Bruno Van Parys, vice president of the ECH unit at Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) Ltd, during the 2nd ICISOleochemical conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday.

Epicerol technology, an ABT patented refined glycerine-based ECH production route, only makes up 11% of the total production of ECH, while 89% is propylene-based, he added.

China, a major consumer for ECH, has increased its glycerine-based ECH production recently amid higher environmental awareness, lesser licensing for propylene-based ECH plants and cheaper feedstocks-glycerine (in 2011) as compared to propylene.

Jiangsu Yangnong Chemical Group, with a nameplate capacity of 90,000 tonnes/year is one of the few glycerine-based ECH facilities in China, while the rest have inconsistent production rates and output because of technology issues, sources said.

A glycerine-based ECH production facility with a 100,000 tonne/year capacity typically consumes around 9,000 tonne of refined glycerine per month, according to one industry source. That would be only 6-7% of the total refined glycerine consumption in 2012-2013, the source added.

There will be an excess supply of refined glycerine in the coming years according to Bruno, as he does not expect new applications to surface in 2014-2015, to absorb the increased supply anticipated from higher biodiesel production and expansion of oleochemical facilities in southeast Asia.

ABT is targeting to produce 200,000 tonne/year of glycerine-based ECH from both its facility in Thailand and upcoming plant in Taixing, China, in the coming years. However, the Taixing plant, expected to launch in the second half of 2014, will be delayed, “in order to cope with market evolution”, he added.

ECH is used mainly in epoxy resins applications , for coating, electronic, composites and constructions industries.

By Alexis Gan