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Propylene Production via Metathesis

By Chemical Engineering |

Propylene is typically considered a co-product in steam crackers and fluid-catalytic-cracking (FCC) processes, which are primarily driven by ethylene and motor gasoline production, respectively. Recently, most U.S. ethylene producers have shifted to lighter feedstocks due to the availability of low-cost natural gas and natural-gas liquids (NGLs) from shale. This shift drastically decreases propylene byproduct output. Since propylene demand is growing faster than that of ethylene, and is expected to continue increasing, a gap between propylene supply and demand is arising. This brings about the possibility of establishing chemical processes for on-purpose propylene production, and one of the processes depends on metathesis chemistry. The metathesis process Metathesis, also known as disproportionation, is a reversible reaction between ethylene and butenes in which carbon-carbon double bonds are broken and then rearranged to form propylene. Both ethylene and 2-butenes are mainly supplied from steam-cracker units, but can also be obtained from FCC units. The metathesis process depicted in Figure 1 is similar to the OCT (olefins conversion technology) process developed by Lummus Technology (part of Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. N.V.; the…
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