Houston-based PetroLogistics II LLC is planning to construct a 500 kiloton/year propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility on the Gulf Coast to take advantage of Lower 48 natural gas.
The Quantum Energy Partners portfolio company, which acquires, develops and operates North American petrochemical manufacturing, processing and logistics assets, said Dow’s fluidized catalytic dehydrogenation (FCDh) technology, which it plans to use, provides a novel reactor design based on fluidized catalytic cracking.
PDH is a catalyst-based process that separates hydrogen from the propane molecule to produce propylene. Dow’s FCDh technology is said to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
PetroLogistics and Dow have each built U.S. PDH plants using other conventional technologies. PetroLogistics built the first PDH plant in North America on the Houston Ship Channel (HSC), which began operations in 2010.
The PetroLogistics facility on the HSC, commissioned in 2010, was at the time the largest PDH plant in the world.
“It has been 10 years since we successfully constructed and operated the first PDH plant in North America for on-purpose propylene production,” President Nathan Ticatch said. “Since that time, developments related to the shale revolution have resulted in a significant decline in co-product propylene production from the sources that historically supplied the majority of U.S. propylene: petroleum refineries and heavy feed ethylene crackers.
“As a result, future growth in propylene demand will need to be supplied largely via on-purpose propane dehydrogenation. However, new PDH projects have been slow in coming to market in the U.S. primarily because of challenges relating to capital costs and efficiency of incumbent PDH technologies.”
PetroLogistics has been working with Dow for three years to evaluate the FCDh technology, he said, “and we are confident that it addresses those challenges and represents a significant breakthrough in the PDH process.”
The company is evaluating two alternative sites on the Gulf Coast to site the project.
In early 2018 PetroLogistics formalized a relationship with Quantum, which supplied most of the equity to fund its projects. Quantum and some members of PetroLogistics management have committed more than $500 million to support the investment strategy.
A plethora of petrochemical newbuilds and expansions is flourishing along the coast of Texas and Louisiana, fueled by abundant Lower 48 natural gas production. Last year Enterprise Products Partners LP said it was mulling another PDH project on the Gulf Coast.
Current Gulf Coast petrochemical projects in the queue include one launched earlier this month by Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC and Qatar Petroleum to build an estimated $8 billion, 2 million metric ton/year (mmty) ethylene cracker and two high-density polyethylene units.
Already underway on the Texas coast is Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, a venture between ExxonMobil Corp. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp., aka SABIC, to build a 1.8 mmty project. As part of its $20 billion Growing the Gulf initiative, ExxonMobil has projects in the works that include an aviation lubricants blending, packaging and distribution facility in the Baton Rouge, LA, area, as well as refining and chemical expansions at the Beaumont and Baytown facilities east of Houston.