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Process for Production of Light Olefins by Dehydrogenation


Objectives and content

The oil refining industry is improving the quality of transportation fuels. However, the current economic situation, concerning the refining industry, does not allow big investments in new production facilities or in extensive research and development. Cost effective steps towards improving competitiveness are needed. An important route to better fuels goes through production of light olefins. The best gasoline components can only be manufactured by using these olefins. These components are alkylate and ethers e.g. MTBE, TAME, ETBE. Also a very good quality diesel can be produced from light olefins by oligomerization. By using current technologies the rfiate of the production of olefins cannot meet the demand of a typical European refinery. Light olefins are only produced as side-products from catalytic and steam cracking processes. Additional production can be obtained by using dehydrogenation processes.
However current technologies are so capital intensive, that only very big plants have been built, and these units are located in oil producing countries, where large quantities of MTBE are also manufactured. This MTBE is then exported to Europe and North-America. The target of this project is to develop a new dehydrogenation technology, which enables the production of light olefins from existing refinery streams emphasizing the efficient use of material and energy resources. The technology is based on the novel catalytic materials, which have both heat and electricity conductive properties allowing a completely new way of heat transfer to compensate the endothermic reaction heat. This simplifies the whole process since the amount of equipment will be reduced and so the process is feasible on a smaller scale compared to existing technologies. This project contains three main sections: catalyst development, heating system development and integrated process design. The catalyst was originally developed by collaboration of LCMC (University of Strasbourg) and Pechiney (France) which patented it. The applicability of this catalyst under specific conditions for dehydrogenation were then developed by LCMC and Neste (Finland) which patented this new process. During the project, the catalyst will be further developed in order to be able to utilize the new induction heating system developed by EMA (SME from Germany). The catalyst manufacturer will be Pechiney (France) and the characterization and testing will be performed by LCMC and by Helsinki University of Technology (HUT).
The complete bench- and pilot-scale units will be constructed and operated by Neste including the final process design and development. Neste will act as the project coordinator as well. As a result of the project there will be design data which will enable the making of a basic engineering package, which is required when actual investment decisions are made. The developed process will be licensed to third parties. The actual licensing will most likely begin two years after the successful completion of this project. The companies involved expect to benefit from the project by selling license fees, catalyst and induction heating technology.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Neste Oy

6101 Porvoo

Participants (4)

EMA Elektromaschinen Schultze GmbH und Co.KG
69430 Hirschhorn
Helsinki University of Technology
02150 Espoo
Rue Aristide Bergès 725
38341 Voreppe
Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg 1
1,Rue Blaise Pascal
67008 Strasbourg