In Illinois, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Fuels and Petrochemical Division has recognized four Honeywell scientists with the 2016 Industrial Research & Development Award for the development and commercialization of the UOP Advanced Methanol-to-Olefins process. The award recognizes the scientists’ work on the technology that converts methanol from sources such as coal and natural gas into the olefins that are the primary components in the manufacture of plastic resins, films and fibers. This is especially critical in countries that lack domestic sources of crude oil but are rich in coal or natural gas.
“Our Advanced MTO technology has played a dramatic role in petrochemicals markets in only a few short years, and it shows how innovation and the application of chemistry and chemical engineering principles can profoundly benefit society,” said Jim Rekoske, VP and chief technology officer at Honeywell UOP. “The development of this technology over many years is a point of great pride within Honeywell UOP, culminating in its commercialization in 2013, with nine customers since that time.”
While many engineers and scientists contributed the development of the Advanced MTO process, the AIChE recognized John Chen (who led the research team) John Senetar (who led modeling and process design), Paul Barger (who established the catalyst and process criteria), and Dan Kauff (who led the integration of MTO and OCP processes) as leaders in the effort. The awardees set a new benchmark for smooth, rapid, and resilient technology commercialization, overcoming many technical challenges. The award recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet at the AIChE Spring Meeting in San Antonio on March 27.
Honeywell UOP’s Advanced MTO process converts methanol from non-petroleum feedstocks such as coal, methane, petroleum coke, or biomass – instead of petroleum — into polymer-grade ethylene and propylene. Development of MTO began in the 1980s, when Honeywell UOP applied a new molecular sieve called SAPO-34 to MTO chemistry and in 1995 built the first demonstration MTO unit with Norsk Hydro (now an Ineos company called Inovyn).
Honeywell UOP and Atofina (now part of Total) developed the Olefin Cracking Process (OCP), which converts heavier olefin byproducts from the MTO process into even more light olefins. OCP was integrated with MTO to create the Advanced MTO process, which is covered by more than 50 patents, and has been licensed to nine customers.