A first-of-its kind U.S. production plant will use on-purpose propylene technology to convert propane from shale gas to propylene for petrochemicals production.

Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., has tapped Honeywell’s UOP LLC, based in Des Plaines, Ill., to provide technology to produce propylene at a Dow site in Texas. The Oleflex technology will be used in a new propane dehydrogenation unit to convert shale gas-derived propane to propylene, a product used in the production of packaging, adhesives, coatings, cleaners and other end-use applications. The facility will produce 826,725 tons per year of polymer-grade propylene. Slated for a 2015 startup, the plant will be the first of its type in the United States and the largest single-train propane dehydrogenation plant in North America, according to UOP.

“There is a unique opportunity in today’s market where shale gas development is driving lower prices and greater availability of propane as a feedstock for petrochemicals,” says Pete Piotrowski, UOP’s senior vice president for process technology and equipment. Dow says it is the largest consumer of propylene in non-polypropylene applications.

The Oleflex process uses UOP continuous catalyst regeneration technology to dehydrogenate propane to propylene over a platinum catalyst. Compared with alternative propane dehydrogenation processes, Oleflex provides a low-cash production cost and high return on investment due to low operating and capital costs, minimum plot area requirements, excellent scalability, high propylene yield and maximum operating flexibility, UOP says.

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