Olefins, especially ethylene and propylene, are the building blocks of many important plastics, polymers and other chemicals. As the world population grows and economies develop, the demand for olefin-based materials will continue to grow.
Major oil and petrochemical companies around the world are investing in technology to increase olefins production capacity. These investment decisions are being supported and justified by many factors including:
- Lower cost feedstock from shale gas
- Ever rising demand for plastics and other materials from growing and emerging economies
- The opportunity for resource-based economies to add value through vertical integration, such as in the Middle East
- Many existing facilities slated for expansion and retrofit to increase output and improve operational efficiency
Olefin/paraffin separation has traditionally been accomplished through the process of distillation. However, distillation has significant economic drawbacks, including:
- Substantial capital costs, thereby eroding project returns
- Extreme energy consumption leading to high operating costs
- Some olefin separations, especially butene separations are currently impractical using conventional distillation technology but would be commercially desirable if they could be economically achieved
- The inability or infeasibility of recovering unreacted olefins from purge or vent streams destined for flaring and subsequent undesirable environmental emissions
For over 30 years companies in the petrochemical industry have sought commercially viable alternative separation technologies to distillation. Many attempts have been made to satisfy this need by industry R&D teams, academic researchers, government researchers and by technology providers looking to commercialize a new, more economic, environmentally advantaged technology. Imtex is the first company to have successfully answered this need and has created the first truly commercially viable alternative to distillation for olefin/paraffin separation with its Permylene membrane technology. Permylene membrane technology meets industry's need for a stable, high performance olefin paraffin separation process that is designed to withstand the rigors of long-term operation.