The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $4.5m grant to LyondellBasell, a chemical and refining company, to develop a new catalyst-assisted technology for ethane cracking.
The new catalyst-assisted technology, which is intended to produce ethylene from ethane gas with lower greenhouse gas emissions, will be developed by LyondellBasell in association with BASF Qtech and Quantiam Technologies in a three-part programme during the next three years.
The technology, which is built upon BASF Qtech's earlier generation ethane and naphtha-fed catalytic coating technology for steam crackers, will also extend the benefits to ethane and natural gas liquid-fed steam crackers.
LyondellBasell has six steam cracking units in the US which process natural gas liquids and ethane for up to 85% of their feedstocks. In addition to the DOE grant, the estimated cost share for the project is $2.2m.
Tim Roberts, LyondellBasell olefins and polyolefins senior vice president, said the manufacturing process grant could benefit the US chemical industry through lower energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
"Access to low-cost ethane from shale gas over the past three years has changed the competitive position of the US chemical industry," Roberts added. "We have an opportunity to further this advantage through greater energy efficiencies in our manufacturing processes."