French/Belgian partners launch Atol technology for bio-ethylene productions

Atol, a technology said to allow the "most profitable" production of polymer grade bio-ethylene by dehydration of 1G and 2G-renewable ethanol, has been launched by partners IFP Energies nouvelles, a public-sector research, industrial innovation and training centre (IFPEN), its affiliate Axens, a provider of provider of catalysts /adsorbents, and integrated oil/gas firm Total. The bio-ethylene produced can be integrated in existing downstream polymerization installations such as PE, PS, PET, PVC and ABS, without need for modifications.

The partnership between Total, IFPEN and its affiliate Axens started in 2011. Within this cooperation, Total developed a high performance catalyst formulation at its research centre in Feluy, Belgium, IFPEN scaled up catalyst performance within a heat recovery innovative process while Axens industrialised the catalyst formulation and finalised the process scheme with particular focus on energy-efficiency. Total and IFPEN are the co-owners of the technology and Axens is now in charge of commercialising Atol by providing all process licensing related services and catalyst manufacturing.

Atol is believed to be the most advanced dehydration technology and features the highest profitability as a result of:

  • Lower Capex by simplified product purification brought on by the outstanding performances of the ATO 201 catalyst, which exhibits a high activity and selectivity towards ethylene.
  • The robustness of its catalyst which copes with any variation in feedstock quality.
  • The highly integrated process scheme that reduces operating costs
  • Significant potential to be integrated with both upstream ethanol production and downstream ethylene conversion.

Atol is the first of a series of technologies, for the production of other olefinic monomers by processing bio-derived higher alcohols, to be developed in parallel based on Atol’s technology platform.

"We are very excited about this efficient and competitive technology that will be able to meet a growing demand for plastics based on renewable raw-materials. This offer is in line with our strategy to become a leading company in the field of technology for bio-based production of Motor Fuels and Chemicals”," said Christian Dupraz, Axens Senior Executive Vice-President Process Licensing.

For Total, such collaboration with a reputable research team (IFPEN) and a licensor (Axens), presents a significant lever to bring innovative technologies, driven by a fast-moving bio-market, to commercial readiness. "This achievement can now open opportunities for industrial projects,”" highlights François-Xavier Cormerais, Total’s Vice-President Research & Development (Refining & Petrochemicals).


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