Published December 2016
Propylene is one of the largest volume petrochemicals, with a current worldwide production capacity of around 120 million metric tons for polymer and chemical grades. The industry is somewhat unique considering that most propylene is manufactured as a by-product from either steam cracking or refining operations. Propylene was produced almost exclusively as a by-product until 10-15 years ago. The supply landscape has changed considerably since then, with on-purpose propylene production technologies now responsible for roughly 20% of global supply. The rapid build in on-purpose propylene capacity has largely been driven by slower growth in supply from steam cracking coupled with continued strong demand.
This process summary reviews the key technology features and presents detailed process economics for the principal routes to produce propylene, including both by-product and on-purpose technologies. The following propylene technologies are included:
- Propylene from wide range naphtha, max. propylene, front-end depropanizer with gas turbine driver
- Propylene, polymer grade from refinery grade propylene
- Propylene from propane by the CATOFIN process
- Propylene from propane by the Oleflex process
- Propylene from propane by the Uhde STAR process
- Coal to propylene process by Siemens gasifier
- Lignite to propylene process by Shell gasifier
- Methanol to propylene by the Lurgi MTP process
- Propylene production by the JGC/MCC DTP process
- Propylene from ethylene via dimerization and OCT
- Propylene from Superflex process
Given that feedstock prices can fluctuate greatly over time, a traditional process economics snapshot comparison for a particular time and region can often be misleading if applied to investment decisions. For investment purposes, using historical process economic comparisons over a long period of time provides a better basis. To address the impact of feedstock price fluctuations, this process summary is accompanied by an iPEPSpectraTM interactive data module that allows for quickly comparing historical process economics of competing technologies in several major regions. The iPEPSpectraTM module uses Microsoft Excel pivot tables and is a powerful interactive tool for comparing process economics at various levels, such as variable costs, plant gate costs, full production costs, and capital costs. An iPEPSpectraTM historical economic comparison provides a more comprehensive assessment of competing technologies and enhances investment decisions.