Departmental Papers (CBE)

Natural Gas to BTX

Bruce Chanenchuk, University of Pennsylvania
Alexander Evans, University of Pennsylvania
Sandhya Thiyagarajan, University of Pennsylvania

Document Type Working Paper


The primary objective of this project was to design a process to produce 1B pounds of benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) per year in an unspecified ratio using a ZSM-5 catalyst in accordance with US Patent 8,278,237. Our process will be located in the Gulf of Mexico and will produce primarily benzene and paraxylene for the purposes of selling to industrial clients. In this report, we present a design that yields 1.1B lb/yr of benzene with a purity of 97 mol% and 33 MM lb/yr of paraxylene with a purity of 99.8 mol% as the main products as well as 400 MM lb/yr of naphthalene with a purity of 99.7 mol% as a byproduct. Due to the scale of this assignment, this process involves the heavy use of utilities, especially electricity and cooling water. $347 MM in total capital investment is required. Despite this, the process we present has an NPV of $285MM and an ROI of 28.4% after the third year. Based on the ROI and NPV of this process, we recommend that management proceed with plans to bring our process into operation while expending significant effort into additional research regarding the catalyst performance on an industrial scale as well as market dynamics.


Date Posted: 04 May 2015