Process Economics Program Report 148/1
Costs of Synthesis Gases and Methanol
Published: February 1983
Mixtures of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, commonly known as syngases, are produced on an enormous scale for the manufacture of ammonia, hydrogen, methanol, and other chemicals. Less traditional uses of syngases continue to be developed and have increased in importance in recent years, viz., acetic acid and acetic anhydride manufacture. Among the promising new developments in syngas chemistry are routes to ethylene.
The syngas routes may be attractive in themselves, irrespective of raw materials, or they may provide the option to use alternative and ultimately cheaper raw materials such as coal and, in certain circumstances, natural gas. The search for alternative feedstocks has been given considerable impetus by the fact that for petroleum based commodity chemicals, feedstock costs now compose the major part of the product value. An added attraction of syngas is that it can be manufactured from almost any raw material containing carbon; hence the availability of feedstocks is ensured. The developments in syngas chemistry have the potential for radical impacts on the chemical industry. They open the door to the possible return of the industry to is traditional position-a capital intensive industry adding a high value to a low cost feedstock.
The cost of syngas can be highly variable, depending on hydrogen/ carbon monoxide ratio, raw material and process, scale of operation and extent of integration with other processes, cost of CO2, credit for hydrogen, and so on. Often, the syngas routes are indirect, proceeding via methanol and including a carbonylation step using carbon monoxide per se. In addition, over the past decade, cost components have escalated at widely different rates, sometimes with large step changes. A frequent problem for analysis in this area has thus been the lack of readily available data for current and representative costs of syngases and related products. To serve this need we therefore developed a flexible and easily updated computer model called SYNCOST, which calculates the costs of syngas and related products.