Worldwide, propylene demand is more than half of the amount of ethylene. In future, propylene demand is set to increase and outpace the growth rate of ethylene. This market development will apply considerable pressure on refiners and olefin producers and cannot be ignored. Traditionally, propylene is a byproduct from on purpose ethylene production, especially steam crackers. In the Middle East most steam crackers using ethane as a feed, resulting in about only 0.02 tons of propylene per ton of ethylene, causing a heavily ethylene centered imbalance in this region. In order to address the general lack of propylene from steam crackers, on purpose propylene production technologies, such as propane dehydrogenation, metathesis or HS-FCC have been developed recently. An alliance comprising of Saudi Aramco, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp.(JX) , King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals and Axens / Shaw, has developed the HS-FCC process which is able to produce up to 25% of propylene by converting heavy hydrocarbon feedstock under severe FCC conditions, using a novel downflow reactor concept. A 3,000 BPSD HS-FCC semi-commercial plant will start at the Mizushima refinery of JX group in Japan in 2Q 2011. Alongside propylene, a considerable amount of Butenes, gasoline and aromatics is produced as valuable byproducts. HS-FCC product portfolio can be further increased towards propylene and aromatics by further downstream conversion of its less desired products, using proven technology approaches.
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