PEP Review 2001-9
Acrylic Acid Production by Propane Oxidation
Published: August 2003
Acrylic acid is commercially produced by the oxidation of propylene. Propylene is used as the starting raw material. As an alternative, acrylic acid production by propane oxidation is an attractive process because propane is much less expensive than propylene. In this process, propane is catalytically oxydehydrogenated to form a mixture of propylene and propane. The resulting mixture is used directly in the conventional two-stage propylene oxidation process to form crude acrylic acid. For this review, we evaluated the capital investment costs and economics for production of acrylic acid by propane oxidation for a plant capable of producing 265 million lb/yr of crude acrylic acid. We compared the results to the traditional route of propylene oxidation to determine whether the propane oxidation process is a competitive process. Based on our conceptual design, capital investment costs for acrylic acid production by propane oxidation are significantly higher than the conventional route. The total capital investment cost is approximately 57% higher. Production cost for the propane oxidation route is comparable to the conventional route only when the propane cost is at most one-third that of propylene. Thus, the economic incentive for acrylic acid production by the propane oxidation route is dependent on the price differential between propylene and propane. Acrylic acid producers who may choose the propane oxidation route are those with plants located in areas with abundant supply of propane and little supply of traditional propylene.