Study Examines On-Purpose Propylene Technologies
IHS Markit sees on-purpose production of propylene as critical in meeting future demand for plastics.
A new report and supporting analytics from Houston-based IHS Markit, indicates that the market is hungry for adequate sources of propylene supply and newer technologies for producing on-purpose propylene are critical to meeting the demand for plastics that utilize propylene as a building block—primarily PP (the world’s largest volume plastic; larger than LLDPE but not more than the three PE types combined), ABS, as acrylonitrile is a key derivative of propylene, as well as nylon 66. In the case of the final material, for example, we have reported on Houston-based Ascend Performance Materials, which has become the world’s only completely fully integrated nylon 66 producer that uses the propane dehydrogenation (PDH) method—or, C3-based technology to make the key intermediate (AND) (adiponitrile) compared to the more widely used C4 butadiene-based approach.
The report, Competitive Processes and Cost Tracker (CPCT) On-Purpose Propylene Production, assesses the technical and economic merits and challenges of the various on-purpose technologies. “Our IHS Markit research sought to examine the strength and benefits, from a technical and regional economic perspective, of the six on-purpose propylene production technologies currently gaining traction in the commercial marketplace,” said Don Bari, v.p. of IHS Markit and lead author of the report.
Whereas steam crackers and oil refineries have been the traditional sources of propylene as a derivative or co-product of crude oil processing, they no longer yield the supply of propylene the market requires due to the shift in feedstocks from naphtha (derived from crude oil) to ethane (derived from natural gas) in North America. In the case of the latter, the shift to ethane-based crackers, which produce very low yields of propylene, will continue to accelerate in the shortfall in propylene volumes derived as a co-product from traditional sources for the next five years at least. As such, IHS Markit forecasts the demand for on-purpose propylene production will continue to escalate.