Honeywell International Inc.'s UOP business group is building new production capacity in China that will allow the company for the first time to fully manufacture MTO catalysts for local customers.
The production line in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, is scheduled to start production in 2017 to make catalysts used in Honeywell UOP's methanol-to-olefins (MTO) process, which converts the methanol from coal into olefins. Honeywell calls the proprietary catalyst “the heart of the MTO process.”
China's growing appetite for polymers and its enthusiasm in the coal-to-plastics model have driven the success of the Honeywell UOP MTO technology, which has been licensed to eight MTO units in China in the last three years alone.
“MTO is an innovative, proven technology that enables countries such as China that are rich in coal, but which have had to import petroleum, to make plastics,” said Rajeev Gautam, president and CEO of Honeywell's Performance Materials and Technologies business group.
While global demand for ethylene and propylene is growing by 4 to 5 percent per year, China is expected to invest more than $100 billion in coal-to-chemicals technology by 2020, Honeywell noted. This would reduce China's dependence on imported oil for the manufacture of polymer materials.
Rebecca Liebert, president and CEO of Honeywell UOP, added: “The [Zhangjiagang] operations use local raw materials, supporting economic development in Jiangsu province, and incorporate zero-discharge wastewater treatment.”
The Zhangjiagang site opened in 2015 and currently produces a range of products including catalysts for Honeywell UOP's Oleflex process, which converts propane into propylene. Over the past five years, Honeywell UOP has licensed its Oleflex technology to 30 producers globally, of which 23 are in China.