Published July 1997
This review updates PEP studies of technology to produce acrylonitrile from propane. It is based on recent patents issued to Mitsubishi Kasei Corporation (MKC), which report a high-conversion (>90%) propane reaction with a yield of 60% acrylonitrile. The MKC yield represents a major improvement over the 40% yield reported in prior BP patents (1998-89), which were the basis for the previous PEP studies. Otherwise, the update design is based on ammoxidation in a fluidized bed reactor and is quite similar in concept to current PEP designs for propylene ammoxidation.
As expected, propane costs were estimated to be substantially lower than in the prior PEP study of propane technology, but propane savings were offset by higher costs for excess ammonia and H2SO4 required for ammonia neutralization. Capital savings resulting from higher conversion were largely offset by higher capital for waste-water disposal, with the result that total capital for the high-conversion process is little changed from previous estimates.
Propane technology may be useful when the propane/propylene price differential is much higher than on the U.S. Gulf Coast or when propylene supplies are extremely restricted. Otherwise, propane technology for acrylonitrile is unlikely to be commercialized without major additional technology improvements.