Dow retrofitting Plaquemine cracker to meet propylene demand


Dow plans to retrofit proprietary fluidized catalytic dehydrogenation (FCDh) technology into one of its mixed-feed crackers in Plaquemine to produce on-purpose propylene, allowing it to continue meeting growing demand for consumer, infrastructure and packaging end-markets.

In a statement last week, Dow says the move is designed to ensure the company remains within its intended near-term capital expenditure targets.

In 2016, Dow expanded the ethylene capacity of this particular cracker by more than 225,000 metric tons and added the ability to crack ethane, while also maintaining the flexibility to crack propane, butane and naphtha. The project is expected to begin producing on-purpose propylene by the end of 2021.

Dow and other U.S. cracker operators are consuming more ethane instead of heavier feed slates. The result? A reduction of propylene production, which is creating a supply/demand gap in the U.S. that requires additional on-purpose propylene sources to meet the needs of downstream derivatives.

The FCDh technology retrofit further improves Dow’s ability to continue to source the most advantaged feedstocks, while also producing cost-efficient, on-purpose propylene to supply its integrated derivative units in Louisiana. The technology can also reduce capital outlay by up to 25% and lower energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%.

The retrofit will enable production of more than 100,000 metric tons of additional on-purpose propylene at full run-rate, further back-integrating Dow’s derivative facilities to cost-advantaged propylene. It will also maintain the unit’s current ethylene production capacity.

“Deploying FCDh technology supports Dow’s continued focus on delivering low-risk, low-cost and high-return projects while reducing the energy intensity and carbon footprint associated with conventional technologies,” Keith Cleason, vice president of Dow’s Olefins, Aromatics & Alternatives business, said in the statement. “Retrofitting our Plaquemine cracker will enhance asset utilization and leverage the U.S. shale gas advantage to meet growing customer demand for Dow’s differentiated polyolefins products.”

In July, PetroLogistics ll LLC announced it had licensed Dow’s proprietary FCDh technology for a new stand-alone PDH facility it plans to construct on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Read the full announcement from Dow.