Clariant ODH Catalysts Enabling Low-Carbon Ethylene Production

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 10/5/2021, Location: North America

Clariant’s new catalysts for the oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane (ODH-E) to produce ethylene could be in use in new plants by 2024-2025, executives at its catalysts group said on Tuesday.

The breakthrough catalysts were developed by Clariant and Linde Engineering, and will make ethylene production via ODH-E commercially feasible and with a far lower carbon footprint of up to 60% without carbon capture versus traditional steam cracking, according to the executives.

“Our expectation [for commercialization] is really 2025, maybe the end of 2024… So if you think about start-up at the end of 2024/2025, apparently negotiations are already quite [advanced],” said Stefan Heuser, senior vice president and general manager at Clariant Catalysts, at the company’s virtual media event.

Clariant’s ODH catalysts will be used exclusively for Linde Engineering’s EDHOX catalytic on-purpose ethylene technology, which can operate at process temperatures of 300-400°C versus up to nearly 800°C for ethane cracking, according to the company.

This lower process temperature would significantly lower carbon emissions.

“The base case… how much [carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction] is associated with the catalytic reaction technology itself… is up to 60%,” said Marvin Estenfelder, vice president and head of R&D at Clariant Catalysts.

Plus, the application of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is easier in this process, as the technology delivers a purified CO2 stream instead of a diluted mixture, he added.

With CCS more readily applied and the potential for electrification of the process, the ODH technology can completely eliminate CO2 emissions, according to Estenfelder.

So far, interest in the technology is coming from producers across the globe, not just in Europe with its aggressive focus on reducing carbon emissions, noted Heuser.

FLEXIBLE ETHYLENE CAPACITY
The ODH technology offers another advantage – a wide range in flexibility of ethylene capacity, from around 200,000 tonnes/year to world-scale of 1.5m tonnes/year or more.

“It’s more than just one value proposition behind it. The size of ethylene production is a [consideration]. This Linde process offers economics with smaller volumes than a classic ethane cracker of 1.5m tonnes or more. So it’s very particular to individual customer needs,” said Heuser.

“One of the great advantages of this technology is that you can scale it down,” said Estenfelder, who noted that a traditional cracker much below 1m tonnes/year is not economically feasible.

“With this technology you can do that. It actually has a very nice sweet spot for demands of that size – for a standalone or a capacity increase if someone is looking to add 200-300 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity. That is clearly a strong selling point of this technology,” he added.

The catalyst process also produces acetic acid as a co-product, with selectivity to ethylene and acetic acid of up to 93% under optimal conditions, according to Estenfelder.

The head of R&D described the ODH-E catalyst as a mixed oxide catalyst in a “very discreet and concrete crystal structure – the first time that such a catalyst is being commercialized”.

The first instance of a such a mixed oxide catalyst was disclosed in a Japanese patent in 1993. Back then, selectivity to ethylene and acetic acid was just over 80%, he explained.

Clariant further developed this technology in several generations to achieve selectivity to ethylene and acetic acid of up to 93% while quadrupling the productivity of the catalyst, he added.

“We now have a catalyst and process package that is very attractive, and we believe it is more attractive than existing ethylene production technology,” said Estenfelder.

METHANOL CATALYST
At the catalyst event, Clariant also announced a new catalyst layering technology developed with Air Liquide called MegaZonE, which enables a longer catalyst lifetime by 12-18 months due to less thermal stress and thus, up to 15% higher cumulative methanol production.

The drop-in solution also enables the use of different feedstocks such as stranded gas, unused syngas or CO2-rich gases, which can significantly reduce the CO2 footprint of methanol producers, according to the company.





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