Clariant launches new styrene catalyst ultra-low SHR

Clariant launches new styrene catalyst for ultra-low SHR

9:38 AM, 9th November 2016
Clariant’s StyroMax UL3 catalyst resolves a vital problem in styrene monomer production.
Clariant’s StyroMax UL3 catalyst resolves a vital problem in styrene monomer production.

MUNICH, GERMANY: Clariant International Ltd has unveiled its new high-performance ethyl benzene dehydrogenation catalyst, StyroMax UL3. With its exclusive design, the catalyst accomplishes extraordinary activity and selectivity at conditions of the ultra-low steam-to-oil ratio (also known as steam-to-hydrocarbon ratio, SHR). Thus, it produces styrene monomer far more proficiently than many other state-of-the-art catalysts.

StyroMax UL3 resolves a vital problem in styrene monomer production. Styrene monomer is manufactured from ethyl benzene using superheated steam as an energy source and depends on catalysts to ease the dehydrogenation reaction. As generating steam consumes significant energy, the latest plant process designs rely on ultra-low SHR conditions in order to reduce costs. But, previous generations of styrene catalysts have performed sub-optimally at such low SHR conditions, demonstrating either favourable activity or selectivity, but not both.

Interestingly, Clariant's StyroMax UL3 catalyst has been verified to offer a superior activity as well as boosted selectivity at ultra-low SHR conditions (1.0 by weight). The new catalyst was installed at the Grand Pacific Petrochemical Corporation (GPPC) styrene production plant in Taiwan in May 2016, and design SM production rate has already been accomplished at lower temperatures than the previous operation. Also, catalyst selectivity has enhanced by 0.5 percent related to former catalyst performance.

The higher activity of StyroMax UL3 raises yields, while its enhanced selectivity reduces the occurrence of by-products such as toluene and benzene, which are typically less valuable than styrene monomer. For producers, this directly translates into significant savings and improved productivity. Moreover, the catalyst's optimal performance at ultra-low SHR ratios now makes styrene monomer production a much more sustainable process.

“With StyroMax UL3, we have a pioneering catalyst that serves one of the most challenging applications in the industry, and provides tangible economic benefits to our customers," said Stefan Heuser, senior VP & general manager business unit catalysts at Clariant.

"Selecting a catalyst that works efficiently in ultra-low SHR conditions can significantly reduce the production cost in our plant. We have used the new StyroMax UL3 in our styrene monomer production since May 2016, and we are very pleased with its performance," added Yang Pin-Cheng, President of GPPC.

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