Major Boost for On-Purpose Propylene
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Major Boost for On-Purpose Propylene

A new catalytic process from Dow Chemical will increase the efficiency of transforming shale gas-derived propane to propylene, satisfying a much-needed market. The Dow-developed fluidized catalytic dehydrogenation (FCDh) technology selectively produces propylene from shale gas feedstocks. The design uses robust reactor/catalyst regenerator technology that allows the process to scale as needed. The design prompts more than 20% capital savings versus alternative commercial processes, while reducing energy requirements per pound of propylene produced, resulting in lower CO2 emissions. Propane dehydrogenation (PDH) chemistry is endothermic and heat must be applied to drive the conversion. “We applied a concept of using the catalyst to carry heat to the reactor,” comments Matt Pretz, one of Dow’s principal FCDh technology developers. “This approach really improves the energy efficiency, but makes very little coke. To satisfy the required energy balance in FCDh, we use the catalyst to independently control the reactor temperature and add supplemental fuel to the regenerator.” Existing PDH technologies slowly move deactivating catalysts between reactors and a regenerator. The FCDh technology takes a very different approach, using more-active catalyst with shorter periods between regenerations. This leads to lower overall capital investment, fewer limitations on increasing scale, higher efficiency and better operability. Frequent catalyst regeneration creates higher effective catalyst activity while in service. FCDh technology is moving toward implementation in Dow hydrocarbon facilities as part of the company’s strategy to strengthen its feedstock flexibility. The company is not only using this technology, but is also commercializing it as part of its growing intellectual property (IP) portfolio – with favourable interest from the market. Dow is now examining opportunities for next generation catalyst and process improvements, with the goal of delivering additional operational benefits. Source: ICIS Chemical Business, 10/13-19/2017, p. 9.

TCGR Note: The new technology from Dow was recently awarded “Best Process Innovation” by ICIS. After validation from its commercial demonstration, the technology may become popular due to the increased feedstock flexibility.