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Qianxixian Qianxi to use Ube technology for coal-to-MEG plant
22
Feb '11
Ube Industries Ltd and HighChem Co Ltd announced that they will license their technologies for transforming a synthetic gas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases) derived from coal gasification into a polyester feedstock to the Chinese firm Qianxixian Qianxi Coal Chemical Investment Co., Ltd. (Guizhou Province, President: Chen Guozhen; referred to as Qianxixian hereafter).

The license covers the process for manufacturing dimethyl oxalate (DMO) and the process for manufacturing ethylene glycol (MEG), a polyester feedstock derived through the reduction of DMO. These technologies enable a MEG industrialization process that is clean, economical, and has a low environmental impact.

Until now, MEG manufacturing was based on ethane from gases associated with crude oil or ethylene from naphtha, but these technologies for the DMO and MEG processes are the first in the world to enable the manufacture of MEG from coal-derived carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases on an industrial scale.

Based on this licensed technology, Qianxixian will build a coal gasification facility and a 300,000-tonne MEG (720,000-tonne DMO) manufacturing facility in Guizhou Province, with plans to bring them online sometime around the end of 2012 or early 2013.

MEG demand in China is rising at a rapid 10% to 15% per year for use in polyester fiber and PET resin, but naphtha-based MEG production there is limited, so the vast majority must be imported.

As part of a national program to promote the petrochemical industry, China is encouraging the use of its vast coal deposits as a chemical raw material instead of a fuel in an effort to increase its value and achieve environmental conservation. The competitiveness of the MEG process along with its strong energy and environmental contributions is attracting the attention of MEG manufacturers in China.

Ube Industries and HighChem are also pursuing negotiations to license these technologies to other Chinese companies, and they expect to establish license agreements for several millions of tonnes and to receive royalty payments totaling several billion yen within the next two or three years.

In the plastics industry, ethylene glycol is important precursor to polyester fibers and resins.

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