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Siluria, Linde Move On New Ethylene Technology

Partners are a step closer to making conversion of methane into ethylene a reality

by Alexander H. Tullo
June 5, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 23

Technology that has eluded the petrochemical industry for decades is inching closer to commercialization. Siluria Technologies has formed a partnership with the engineering giant Linde to develop its oxidative coupling process for converting methane into ethylene.

The technology is based on nanowire catalysts developed at the MIT lab of Angela M. Belcher. If it works on a commercial scale, companies could make ethylene from low-cost methane, rather than the naphtha or ethane required in the conventional steam cracking route to ethylene.

Siluria expects to complete a 1-ton-per-day demonstration plant at Braskem’s La Porte, Texas, facility by the end of this year.

The partners hope to have the process ready for commercialization by the second half of 2015. Siluria CEO Edward J. Dineen says his firm is already studying a commercial project with Braskem and will soon commence a feasibility study with another chemical maker for a plant outside of North America.

In the 1980s, companies such as Arco and Union Carbide had programs to develop catalysts for converting methane into ethylene that fell by the wayside. Siluria has gone “much further,” Dineen says.

Don Bari, a consultant at IHS who has studied the technology, agrees that Siluria is “way ahead of the curve” in terms of its technology development. Two advantages of Siluria’s catalysts, Bari notes, are operation at relatively low temperatures and high selectivity.


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