Ethylene Oxide Process by Union Carbide Corp

To produce ethylene oxide (EO) from the direct oxidation of ethylene using the Dow METEOR process.

Ethylene Oxide Process by Union Carbide Corp

The METEOR Process, a technology first commercialized in 1994, is a simpler, safer process for the production of EO, having lower capital investment requirements and lower operating costs. In the METEOR Process, ethylene and oxygen are mixed with methane-ballast recycle gas and passed through a single-train, multitubular catalytic reactor (1) to selectively produce EO. Use of a single reactor is one example of how the METEOR process is a simpler, safer technology with lower facility investment costs.

The special high-productivity METEOR EO catalyst provides very high efficiencies while operating at high loadings. Heat generated by the reaction is removed and recovered by the direct boiling of water to generate steam on the shell side of the reactor. Heat is recovered from the reactor outlet gas before it enters the EO absorber (2) where EO is scrubbed from the gas by water. The EO-containing water from the EO absorber is concentrated. Some impurities are removed by stripping and is then immediately reabsorbed in water (3), thus minimizing the handling of concentrated EO. The cycle gas exiting the absorber is fed to the CO2 removal section (4,5) where CO2, which is co-produced in the EO reactor, is removed via activated, hot potassium carbonate treatment. The CO2 lean cycle gas is recycled by compression back to the EO reactor.

Most EO plants are integrated with glycol production facilities. When producing glycols, the reabsorbed EO stream (3) is suitable for feeding directly to a METEOR glycol process. When EO is the desired final product, the EO stream (3) can be fed to a single purification column to produce high-purity EO. This process is extremely flexible and can provide the full range of product mix between glycols and purified EO.

Economics: The process requires a lower capital investment and has lower fixed costs due to process simplicity and the need for fewer equipment items. Lower operating costs are also achieved through the high-productivity METEOR EO catalyst, which has very high efficiencies at very high loadings.

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