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Meeting Propylene Demands with SUPERFLEX Technology Disclosure Number: IPCOM000217711D
Publication Date: 2012-May-10
Document File: 6 page(s) / 219K

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Meeting Propylene Demands with SUPERFLEXsM Technology

Curtis Eng, Ray Orriss and Michael Tallman KBR Olefins Technology

Polypropylene continues to drive the need for additional propylene, especially in developing countries. Most of today's propylene is a result of byproduct recovery from either steam crackers or from refinery conversion processes such as FCC operations. As such, the byproduct propylene from these sources can grow only as fast as the growth for ethylene or transportation fuels. Ethylene growth rates have lagged propylene growth rates and will continue to do so in the future. Similarly, the growth rate of transportation fuels is several times lower than propylene. In addition, the shifting of steam cracker feedstocks to lighter feeds produces less propylene byproduct, which could result in a regional propylene shortages requiring alternative propylene-on-purpose technologies.

FEED SOURCES FOR PROPYLENE Very simplistically, significant amounts ofpropylene can be made from feeds as light as methane to heavy oils from an atmospheric tower bottoms (ATB). In most cases, it is unrealistic for the existing propylene producer to import large amounts of new feedstocks for propylene production, rather the best source may be with low value or problematic internal streams within the producer's refmery or steam cracker. The following gives a summary of major propylene production technologies as a function of feed source.



Ethylene + Butene Propane


Indirect, Methanol To Olefins, methanol over custom catalyst Metathesis, requires clean, high purity olefins for reaction Dehydrogenation

Paraffins Conventional steam cracking

C4-Cl0 Oleftnic

Gas oil

Gas oil


Olefins inter-conversion over ZSM-5 catalyst Conventional FCC unit

High severity FCC unit with ZSM-5 additives
High severity resid FCC with specialized catalyst additives

Ultimate C3H6 Yield % of Feed

No commercial units yet 25-40%

Commercialized at Lyondell 90-95%

Many plants, but key is cost effective propane pricing Propylene recovered as a byproduct, the primary source of propylene

SASOL SUPERFLEXTM unit will startup in late 2005
2no major source ofpropylene but fairly low fuels growth

Many variations, including KBR's MAXOFINTM

No commercial units, although quite a bit of research by many








Currently, steam cracking and refinery operations constitute over 97% of the propylene produced today. Clearly, alternative routes to propylene will gain prominence as producers seek to

KBR Paper 1819

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leverage their existing assets and available internal steams to fmd an optimum solution for meeting the demand for propylene. SUPERFLEX technology can be a solution to meeting the propylene gap in the future.

SUPERFLEX OVERVIEW SUPERFLEX is a fluidized catalytic cracking technology which converts olefinic streams from petrochemical or refinery sources to significant amounts of propylene and ethylene. Ideal s...