262236 Direct Route to Propylene Oxide
Propylene oxide (PO) is currently produced via SMPO mainly. Efforts have been made to produce PO similarly to ethylene oxide via direct oxidation of propylene. Production of propylene oxide via this route requires development of a catalyst that can achieve the right yields and selectivities to make it economically attractive.
Shell has been working in this area by testing different catalysts and different conditions. In order to guide our efforts in this area we relied heavily in the use of process simulation and consequently economic process evaluations of where the technology stands and try to map a road to develop an economic process. The process evaluation includes process economics as well as a high level view for the carbon footprint of the proposed technology and also comparison to some other benchmarks.
This work presents some of our efforts in coming up with a successful PO direct process, the work focuses on experimental achievements to date and how these are translated into a process simulation that is subsequently used to produce a capital estimate and variable cost that gives an idea for the state of the technology. We also discuss current challenges and a proposed path for successful commercialization of such a technology. Although the work was mainly focused on catalyst research, other areas have also been investigated such as process safety and other process improvements that may help bring this technology to fruition.