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Working Paper

Date of this Version



Phenol production, expected to exceed 13MM metric tons in 2017, is a significant global industry with many flaws in its current manufacturing method. The Hock process essentially converts high value propylene to low value acetone. The proposed process design, detailed in this report, provides an alternative reaction pathway that utilizes a direct synthesis from benzene, as developed at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in New Delhi, India. The endorsed proposal is in accordance with US Patent 8,772,552 B2, that describes the production of phenol via vapor phase oxidation of benzene over a copper chromium oxide catalyst. Environmental protection and worker safety are paramount concerns due to the hazardous nature of phenol and benzene. The inclusion of a ventilation system with flare hoods keeps the concentration of hazardous materials within OSHA guidelines. The design uses air to oxidize benzene within four separate packed-bed reactors with inter-stage coolers. Downstream separation removes non-condensable species, recycles up to 98% of the unreacted benzene, and purifies phenol to design specifications. The plant’s capacity is 500MM lb/operating-year of phenol and will be located on the U.S. Gulf Coast as part of an industrial complex. The final product is 99.83% phenol by mass, and contains an aldehyde byproduct as the principal impurity. The design requires an initial investment of $83.6MM, yields a fifteen-year net present value (NPV) of $90M, and has an estimated investor’s rate of return (IRR) of 29.2%. The proposed project is forecasted to break-even in Q1 of 2025 immediately following the second year of maximum production capacity. The design is recommended based on project specifications and marketing team projections, though investors should exercise caution with regards to the effect of realistic market data on proposal sensitivities.



Date Posted: 21 April 2017