Abstract

Propylene is a major petrochemical intermediate product. It is used as raw material in producing commodity products such as polypropylene, and intermediates like acrylonitrile, propylene oxide, acrylic acid and cumene. The two major manufacturing processes for propylene are steam cracker operation in petrochemical industry and fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) in crude oil refining. In both cases, propylene is a byproduct. In steam cracker operation the primary objective is ethylene production and in FCC operations the main objective is motor gasoline production. Being a byproduct, propylene supply in the market depends on the demand for ethylene and motor gasoline. On the other hand, propylene is a very versatile raw material with a wide range of applications. As a result, propylene has its own particular demand growth which does not correspond with that of ethylene and motor gasoline. Past experience has shown that the demand growth for propylene is higher than that of ethylene and motor gasoline. This causes a gap between supply and demand for steam cracker and FCC based propylene. To fill-in the gap, a number of processes have been developed which produce propylene as the main product. These processes are the so called "on purpose propylene production routes". Some of these processes are already commercialized and in operation and some are just pilot or laboratory scale. Although the share of these processes in filling the gap between supply and demand for propylene, compared to steam cracker and FCC operation is small, this share has been growing steadily during the past years and the share is expected to grow furthermore in the years to come. Some of the on purpose propylene production routes include propane dehydrogenation, methanol to olefins, methanol to propylene, olefins conversion and olefins disproportionation.

The objective of this presentation is to introduce the processes in which propylene is the main product (on purpose propylene production routes). A technical and economic comparison between these processes will be presented. There are also some limitations to applying the processes which will be touched upon.

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