Wanhua commissions largest PDH unit in China


China’s Yantai Wanhua Polyurethanes Group has started up the largest operating single-train propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in China. It is using US firm Honeywell UOP's C3 Oleflex process technology to convert propane into 750,000 tonnes/year of propylene, the primary component used for making plastics, packaging and synthetic fibres. With this unit, the global production capacity of Oleflex technology is now approximately 6.8 million tonnes/year.

"As China's largest Oleflex unit, this represents a significant expansion in the country's propylene capacity and a big step toward meeting local demand for propylene," said Mike Millard, Vice-President/General Manager of Honeywell UOP's Process Technology and Equipment business. "No other technology works as efficiently and produces as much high-quality propylene as the Oleflex process."

Historically, 70% of the world's propylene was produced from petroleum as a by-product of making ethylene, another component of plastics. In recent years, ethylene producers increasingly have made ethylene from ethane in natural gas, which produces a negligible amount of propylene.

This shift in ethylene production has caused a propylene supply gap, leading to investments in facilities that produce on-purpose propylene using Honeywell UOP technology.

China consumes more than 15% of the world's propylene and its demand is growing more than 4% a year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Since 2011, Honeywell UOP's Oleflex technology has been chosen for 40 of the world's 47 new propane and isobutane dehydrogenation projects licensed worldwide.

Honeywell UOP's C3 Oleflex technology uses catalytic dehydrogenation to convert propane to propylene and is said to have the lowest cash cost of production and the highest return on investment compared with competing technologies.

In addition to technology licensing, Honeywell UOP provided the engineering design, equipment, staff training, technical service and catalyst for the project.

The Oleflex unit is part of a large complex that also includes Honeywell UOP LPG hydrotreating technology, a Butamer C4 isomerisation unit, and PSA, or pressure swing adsorption, units to produce high-purity hydrogen.


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