By the year 2020, on-purpose propylene technologies will supply 20 percent of the world’s propylene.

Whether you have alternative feedstock, such as coal or natural gas, or a traditional feedstock such as propane, UOP has the solution to help make propylene and ethylene at the lowest cash cost of production.

Expanding routes for olefins production

View Larger ImageOlefin Production Routes

The majority of light olefins today are produced through steam cracking either light hydrocarbon liquids or natural gas. As cracker feeds have become lighter, favoring ethylene production, propylene shortages have brought on the need for “on-purpose” propylene production from the dehydrogenation of propane to propylene.

As a result, the traditional methods for light olefin production are being supplemented with that incorporate new feedstocks.

The refinery FCC unit has long been a source of propylene, typically as a by-product of gasoline production from larger FCC units where the propylene recovery costs can be justified. Recently, in response to growing market demand, FCC units have been built or modified to make propylene production the primary processing objective.

Additionally, on-purpose ethylene and propylene can be made from natural gas, coal, or other hydrocarbon sources. Using partial oxidation, the feedstocks are converted to synthesis gas, methanol and finally converted to light olefins in a process such as UOP’s Methanol-to-Olefins (MTO) process. The MTO process appeals to areas with limited availability to conventional olefin feedstocks, and/or the profit opportunity of a significantly lower cost feedstock.

Similarly, butadiene has been traditionally produced as a byproduct of the naphtha cracking processes, but as refiners move to using lighter feedstocks to make ethylene and propylene, less byproduct butadiene is produced. As a result, technology to produce on-purpose butadiene is needed to address this gap. The TPC/UOP OXO-D™ process converts n-butenes to butadiene using oxidative dehydrogenation.


MTO Infographic

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Cost effective ethylene production from traditional & non-traditional sources

MTO Pilot Plant

Whether you’re using conventional technologies like steam cracking, or planning to use alternative feedstocks, UOP can help you make ethylene production more cost effective. We offer the process technology, equipment, catalysts and adsorbents you need for high-quality ethylene production.

Methanol to Olefins

The UOP/Hydro MTO Methanol to Olefins Process jointly developed by UOP and Norsk Hydro (now Ineos), is the key process link in converting cost advantaged alternative feedstocks, like coal, natural gas or pet coke, to light olefins. Using these feedstocks results in significantly lower light olefin cost of production than conventional routes.

The process offers the following benefits over competing technologies:

  • Highest ethylene and propylene yields with minimal by-product formation
  • Wide flexibility in ethylene and propylene production ranges
  • Lowest catalyst consumption

Although this is a new route to ethylene production, the MTO process relies on proven technologies and equipment widely used in FCC and steam cracker technology areas. The MTO process has been fully demonstrated at the semi-commercial scale by Total Petrochemicals in Feluy, Belgium. To date, the site has successfully produced both polypropylene and polyethylene.

Ethylene from a Naphtha Cracker

Another option for ethylene production from a conventional route is the UOP MaxEne™ process.  This new process enables refinery and petrochemical plant integration that will maximize the benefits to both facilities. MaxEne, the latest application of the UOP Sorbex™ process for adsorptive separation, recovers C5-C11 normal paraffin from naphtha for feed to the naphtha cracker. The remaining naphtha components are a preferred feed for a catalytic reforming unit. The process enables:

  • 30% ethylene yield increase from existing naphtha cracker with no loss in propylene
  • 5-6% octane increase of reformate from reforming unit to gasoline pool
  • 2-3% aromatics yield increase for reformate from reforming unit to aromatics complex

The MaxEne process is currently being commercialized in collaboration with Sinopec and is expected to be operating in early 2013.

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Proven on-purpose and by-product solutions

UOP offers multiple propylene production solutions that can help you better manage feedstock costs.


On-Purpose Propylene from Propane

The catalytic dehydrogenation of propane allows you to participate in the growing propylene market, independent of a steam cracker or FCC unit. The Oleflex process provides a dedicated, reliable, independent source of high-quality propylene to give you more control over propylene feedstock costs.

As the leading on-purpose polymer grade propylene production technology in the world, Oleflex provides the lowest cash cost of production and highest return on investment when compared to competing PDH processes via:

  • Lowest operating cost enabled by low feedstock consumption and low energy usage
  • Lowest capital cost enabled by the industry’s only continuous process and operation with a highly active and stable catalyst at positive pressure utilizing only 4 reactors.
  • Highest reliability enabled by recent design enhancements and the ability to change catalyst on-the-fly without stopping propylene production.

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The Oleflex process leverages industry leading UOP heat and mass transfer equipment, process equipment and control systems.

Today there are twenty six C3 and C4 Oleflex units in operation, which is more than twice the number of operating units of the nearest competitor. The same proprietary design is used in the catalytic dehydrogenation of iso and normal butanes to butylenes.


On-Purpose Propylene from Cost Advantaged Feedstocks

The UOP Advanced MTO Process, which combines the UOP/Hydro MTO Methanol to Olefins Process with the UOP/Total Petrochemicals Olefin Cracking Process (OCP), converts cost advantaged alternative feedstocks such as coal, natural gas and petcoke to light olefins. The process offers a number of benefits:

  • Lower light olefin cost of production than conventional routes
  • The highest propylene and ethylene yields when compared to competing MTO technologies
  • Minimal by-product formation
  • A wide range of ethylene and propylene production

The Advanced MTO process has been fully demonstrated at the semi-commercial scale by Total Petrochemicals in Feluy, Belgium. To date, the site has successfully produced both polypropylene and polyethylene.

In addition to its role upgrading C4+ by-product streams into propylene and ethylene in the Advanced MTO process, OCP can be used for by-product upgrading in steam crackers, FCC units and Delayed Cokers.

By-Product Propylene

The UOP Propylene Recovery Unit is the most economic method to separate propylene from propane. It brings together three proven technologies — UOP’s MD distillation trays, High Flux tubing and heat pump compressor system to produce chemical or polymer-grade propylene from refinery by-product streams. Multiple UOP-designed propylene recovery units are in operation around the world, and more than 170 propane-propylene splitters with MD trays are in operation or under construction today.

UOP Oleflex™ process services may include:

  • Engineering services
  • Technical and marketing services
  • Design services
  • Construction services
  • Start-up services
  • Staff training
  • Maintenance, monitoring and troubleshooting services

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Utilize FCC as your primary propylene producer

Larger FCC units have long been a source of petrochemical propylene as a valued by-product of gasoline production. As FCC technology has developed, specialized process designs and catalysts have been developed to selectively increase propylene production and ultimately provide a technology for full light olefins and aromatics petrochemical integration. As the leading licensor of FCC technology, UOP has led the way in these developments and now offers technologies that span the propylene production range from 8 to 20+ wt% propylene yield on fresh feed.

The UOP FCC process can be utilized to increase conversion beyond the “maximum gasoline yield” point to begin the process of incremental propylene production.  The primary objective continues to be gasoline production and light cycle oil blendability.

The UOP PetroFCC process includes further process and catalyst modifications that can increase your propylene production into the 10 to 15 wt% propylene range.  As the gasoline and light cycle oil products become increasingly aromatic, propylene production may be limited by blendibility of these major product streams.

The new UOP RxPro™ process is designed for full refinery/petrochemical integration.  It provides propylene yields that can exceed 20 wt% of feed and an aromatic rich naphtha stream for BTX recovery and further upgrading in your aromatic complex. Light cycle oil can also be further upgraded to BTX aromatics using the UOP LCO-X process.

Process design and catalyst selection in the RxPro process are driven by maximum selectivity to propylene and liquid products to maximize your product revenue consistent with your feedstock quality. The yields are heavily influenced by the hydrogen content of your feedstock, which makes knowledge of feedstock selection, cut point and upstream hydroprocessing key to overall processing economics.

When considering propylene production from FCC, upstream and downstream integration is critically important.  From feedstock preparation to downstream olefin/aromatics complex integration and fuels blending, UOP help you find your optimized solution.

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C4 olefins at the lowest cash cost of production and highest ROI

View Larger ImageButylenes C4 Processing

Butylene Production

The UOP Oleflex™ process can be used for the catalytic dehydrogenation of isobutane, normal butane or mixed butanes to make iso, normal, or mixed butylenes. Traditionally, this process has been used throughout the world to enable the production of gasoline blending components such as MTBE, ETBE, Iso-Octene and Iso-Octane. The process can also be coupled with MTBE decompostion technology to allow for high-purity isobutylene production for applications like butyl rubber or other specialty applications.

Today there are eight dedicated  C4 Oleflex units in operation. These units operate with industry leading performance and reliability and have achieved record catalyst life in dehydrogentation service of more than seven years.

The same proprietary design is used in the catalytic dehydrogenation of propane to propylene. The UOP C4 Oleflex process, like our C3 Oleflex technology, provides end-users with the lowest cash cost of production and highest return on investment option available on the market today.

Steam Cracker Crude C4 Processing

Steam cracker crude C4 processing is generally aimed at the production of high-purity mono-olefins, such as Butene-1 or high-purity Butadiene. Technology selection depends on your needs for 1,3 butadiene. Typically, multiple technologies including B-1 recovery are required to produce high-purity B-1. These include selective hydrogenation of butadiene, removal of isobutylene and superfaction.

UOP is a market leader in Butene-1 production with seven Huels Selective Hydrogenation (SHP) and Butene-1 Recovery process units in operation.  Our solutions offer some key advantages:

  • Only single stage MTBE technology in the marketplace that can achieve 99.9%+ conversion of isobutylene to meet Butene-1 specifications.
  • Multiple Downcomer (MD) distillation trays which enable UOP’s offering of Butene-1 technology to lead the marketplace in minimizing investment costs.

The UOP KLP process plays a key role in helping petrochemical producers worldwide meet increasing demands for butadiene.

For an existing petrochemical producer with a two-stage butadiene extraction unit, UOP’s KLP process can be added to increase butadiene yield and crude C4 production capacity with the further benefit of elimination of the hazardous acetylene by-product stream.

For petrochemical producers who want to produce high-purity butadiene, installation of the UOP KLP process enables butadiene production with a downstream single-stage extraction unit to allow for the highest yield of butadiene, lowest butadiene product impurities and maximum inherent safety in operation.

UOP KLP’s process utilizes a proprietary highly selective catalyst, KLP-60. UOP has eight KLP units in commercial operation totaling over 1,000,000 MTA of butadiene production.

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Proven on-purpose butadiene solution

Traditionally, butadiene – critical to the production of synthetic rubber – has been produced as a byproduct of the naphtha cracking processes. But as refiners move to lighter feedstocks to make ethylene and propylene, less of the byproduct butadiene is produced, creating a growing “gap” between supply and demand. But this gap can be closed with technologies to produce “on-purpose” butadiene.

UOP has partnered with TPC Group to become the exclusive licensor of TPC Group OXO-D™ technology to produce on-purpose butadiene. TPC Group OXO-D technology has been successfully developed and operated for more than 40 years, commercially converting n-butene to butadiene.

UOP is the exclusive licensor of the technology, which has been demonstrated successfully in facilities worldwide.

Continued partnership and innovation

UOP and TPC are jointly developing further enhancements to TPC Group OXO-D technology, making it the most efficient and low-cost method to produce on-purpose butadiene.

TPC Group Inc. is North America’s leading producer of butenes and finished butadiene. UOP is a global leader in developing and licensing process technology for the refining and petrochemical industries.

Butadiene is a valuable component used in a wide range of market applications, including synthetic rubber for tires and hoses, nylon for carpeting and automobile airbags, latex for paper coatings, ABS resins for plastic components and TP elastomers for roofing, footwear and more.

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