Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Propylene oxide (PO) is an important intermediate in the manufacture of propylene glycol (PG), polyether polyols and many other products. Conventional production of propylene oxide has many drawbacks. The most common method, the chlorohydrin process produces chlorinated by products which must be disposed of. Other processes produce a co-product, like styrene, which adversely affects production economics. A team of scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in New Delhi has recently applied for a patent for a catalyst that oxidizes propylene to PO in high yield. The primary motivation behind this project was the production of PO without the unwanted side products of traditional methods by using the direct oxidation in CSIR’s patent. Our proposed plant design produces 200 million lb/year of propylene oxide from propylene and will be located on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Our plant is divided into four sections, namely feed material pretreatment, direct oxidation reaction, initial separation, and final distillation. The byproducts include CO2, Acetal, Acrylic Acid, and Acrolein. CO2 is separated through adsorption-desorption cycle with monoethanolamine (MEA), other byproducts are separated by distillation, and PO product is 99.9822% pure by mass. The cost of purchase of propylene is $1,100/tonne and the selling cost of PO is $2500/tonne. The process has an estimated IRR of 81.91% and an NPV of $262,808,900.This report provides a detailed design and economic analysis for PO production in the Gulf Coast. Process flow sheets, energy and utility requirements and reactor design have been considered during our analysis below. The total cost of equipment is $35,715,726. Except for the most extreme variations of the price of PO, variable costs, fixed costs, and total permanent investment, the IRR remains strongly positive indicating the high chance of this project’s success even if factors outside of the group’s control negatively affect its economics. Due to its low risk and high reward, a license for the catalyst described in the patent should be acquired, and this process should be developed.



Date Posted: 03 May 2016