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Working Paper

Date of this Version



This process will produce 0.5 MM tons of benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) per year from a feedstock of 0.82 MM tons of fractional-grade ethane. The conversion of ethane to BTX occurs in a steam reformer reactor operating at 1170°F, using a germanium-incorporated H-ZSM-5 zeolite catalyst. After the reaction occurs, the light components are separated from the product stream using a multistage compressor and flash followed by the PRISM separation system. The light hydrocarbons (ethylene, ethane, propylene, and propane) are recycled to the reactor and the hydrogen and methane are burned. The final BTX product is separated from the heavy stream using two distillation columns, and the remaining heavy components are sold for use in gasoline. The plant will be located on the Gulf Coast due to the abundance of fracking operations in the area, allowing for easy access to ethane feedstock and gases used in the regeneration process. The process is currently unprofitable with an IRR of 2.87% and a net present value of -$166,765,000 at a discount rate of 18%. The financials for this venture are highly sensitive to the price of catalyst components and catalyst lifetime. A few major reasons that make this venture unprofitable are the high cost of catalyst, the high equipment cost, and the short catalyst lifespan. After in depth analysis of the financials, we recommend that this project only be executed if market prices for input components significantly decrease, prices for BTX significantly increase, or catalyst lifetime significantly increases.



Date Posted: 04 May 2015