Published: November 2007
Ethylene and propylene are by far the two largest volume chemicals produced by the petrochemicals industry. In 2006 about 110 million metric tons of ethylene and 70 million metric tons of propylene were produced worldwide. Global demand for light olefins (ethylene and propylene) is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5% for propylene and 4% for ethylene. Today the majority of light olefins are produced by the petrochemicals industry either from pyrolysis (steam cracking) of naphtha or from fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) of naphtha. The recent dramatic increase in oil prices is reviving a strong interest in the production of light olefins from non-petroleum source among which low-cost methanol may play a significant role.
Because of the wide variety of feedstock sources and projected massive new capacity additions in the near future, methanol has promise as an economical, non-petroleum source for the production of light olefins. At present, the technologies for producing light olefins from methanol appear ready for commercialization.
n this report, we evaluate one of the most promising new applications for low-cost methanol: the catalytic conversion of methanol to light olefins. We develop and present conceptual designs and preliminary economics of the two processes currently available for license—the UOP/Hydro MTO (methanol-to-olefins) technology based on the MTO-100 silicoaluminophosphate synthetic molecular sieve based catalyst, and Lurgi’s MTP (methanol-to-propylene) process based on MTPROP, a proprietary ZSM-5 type of catalyst supplied from Süd-Chemie.