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A boost for acetonitrile

By Gerald Parkinson |

Acetonitrile, a byproduct of acrylonitrile production, has been in short supply for about a year because of a dramatic reduction in the demand for acrylonitrile, used in plastics for the manufacture of cars, appliances and electronic goods. A process modification that promises to relieve the shortage by increasing the yield of acetonitrile has been implemented by Ineos Nitriles (Houston; www.ineos.com) in its acrylonitrile plants at Lima (Ohio), Green Lake (Tex.) and Seal Sands (U.K.). The technology allows Ineos “to produce around 50% more acetonitrile during periods of weak acrylonitrile demand without having to increase the production of acrylonitrile,” says Rob Nevin, CEO of Ineos Nitriles. Acrylonitrile is produced by propylene ammoxidation, in which propylene is reacted with ammonia and air over a fluidized-bed catalyst that contains bismuth, cerium and molybdenum. The process takes place at 400–510°C and 5–30 psig and coproduces about 3% acetonitrile. The company declines to say how the additional acetonitrile is produced, except to say that it involves a process modification. Ineos supplies around 40% of the world’s acetonitrile.   Click here for a full pdf version of the Chementator Section
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