Key Technology of Gas Separation Expedites the Synthesis of Ethylene Glycol from Coal


In the first year of The China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, several plants of manufacturing ethylene glycol from coal went into operation, and the capacity newly made to produce ethylene glycol increased rapidly. Up to February 2017, the total capacity of manufacturing ethylene glycol from syngas in our country rises to 2120 thousand tons per year ( data provided by ASIACHEM on basis of existed plants and newly commissioned plants ), which weights 30 % among all ethylene glycol manufacturing capacity. That breaks the monopoly state of petroleum way for ethylene glycol. With the stable operation of ethylene glycol manufacturing plants of Tongliao GEM Chemical, Xinjiang Tianye, Anyang Yongjin Chemical, Sinopec Hubei Fertilizer, and Erdos Xinhang Energy, the ethylene glycol manufacturing technology in our country becomes mature, and it is predicted in the following years coal ways for ethylene glycol will have another rapid development. The capacity of ethylene glycol manufacturing will be raised to 5000 to 6000 thousand tons from present capacity 2000 thousand tons in 3~5 years, which weights 50% in domestic market.

Process of producing ethylene glycol from syngas is based on the raw material, coal. By gasification, conversion, purification and separation, high grade carbon monoxide and hydrogen are separated, among which carbon monoxide is used for manufacturing oxalate by coupling reaction under catalyst, and then with hydrogen to produce polyester grade ethylene glycol by hydrogenation reaction. Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Company has the advanced technology at carbon monoxide separation and hydrogen generating. The high purity and recovery rate of product fully meet the purification requirement on material gas to make ethylene glycol.

(PSA-CO technology can be also applied in the field of producing acetic acid, butanol, octanol DMF  and so on from coal.)


1.       GEM Chemical: The first company that helps industrialization of ethylene glycol manufacturing from coal

Tongliao GEM Chemical’s 200,000 t/a ethylene glycol plant is the first plant in China which adopts the technology of coal for ethylene glycol. This project was started in August 2007, and finished installation at the end of 2009. On May 3rd 2010, the qualified oxalic acid was produced by this plant and on November 18th 2011, the capacity got qualified, too. In this project, Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Company provided one 22000 Nm3/h PSA CO plant (Purity above 98.5%), one 4000 Nm3/h PSA H2 Plant (Purity above 99.9%) and one 22000 Nm2/h VPSA O2 plant (Purity above 91%). Those three plants prove to run well and provide highly qualified stable raw material gas. This is the first application in China that gas pressure swing adsorption technology was used to manufacture ethylene glycol from coal, which proves that Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Company is a professional and leading supplier in coal for ethylene glycol industry.

The PSA CO and H2 separation plants in this project have been working stably for years, and the specification is above designed level.


2.      Good prospects for the development of coal for ethylene glycol process with more and more coal for ethylene glycol plants start running.

For synthesis technology and related process has grown, many coal for ethylene glycol plants could work continuously at high load and produce polyester grade ethylene glycol.

Anyang Yongjin Chemical’s 200000 t/a ethylene glycol plant started working at 2012 and made a record for 4 months continuous working, and in August 2015, its working load reached 90% capacity and day load touched 578 tons. Now, the average daily capacity of ethylene glycol is above 550 tons, and well qualified product is above 98%. Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology provided 22000 Nm3/h PSA CO plant and 42000 Nm3/h PSA H2 plant to this project, and since start-up, they work stably at high load and continuously provide material gases to the downstream plants and broke many records.

 In 2016, Tongliao GEM Chemical made a capacity expansion revamping to gas making furnace and synthesis facilities, and for this adjustment the capacity decreased to 62100 tons at first half year, and sale of ethylene glycol is also good. Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Company provide one more PSA CO and H2 plants based on customer needs, and the estimated capacities are as following: 250000 t/a ethylene glycol and 120000 t/a acetic acid.

In 2016, Sinopec Hubei Fertilizer’s 200000 t/a syngas for ethylene glycol industrial model plant finished the experiment test at full capacity and 110% capacity for 72 hours. On March 9th 2017, the National Inspection Center for petrochemical organic raw material synthetic resin tested some samples, and all the sample tested qualified the Excellent Grade. Now, this project is aiming to reach capacity and efficiency. Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Company provided 21500 Nm3/h (purity 99.5%) CO plant and 75000 Nm3/h (purity 99.9%) H2 plant, and the first start-up succeeded, which consolidated Pioneer’s first place in market in China.

In addition, Pioneer provided 6300 Nm3/h (purity above 98.5%) PSA CO plant and 12000 Nm3/h (purity above 99.9%) PSA H2 plant to a 600000 t/a ethylene glycol project in Xinji, Hebei. This plant will have a try start-up at second half year in 2017, and this project strengthens the team of syngas for ethylene glycol.

The professional consulting company of ethylene glycol industry in China says that 2017 year will be a beginning of booming of synthesis for ethylene glycol. After a hibernation in 2017 for economic crisis, many coal for ethylene glycol projects may be started quickly, and there will be 8 newly added project with a total capacity 1340000 tons per year. Under such condition, Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Company has got more and more projects, and from second half of 2016 to beginning of 2017, Pioneer signed contracts with many clients on ethylene glycol producing related equipment, including Lihuayi Group’s PSA CO plant for ethylene glycol and Tianying Petrochemical’s PSA CO plant and H2 plant. Based on the rich experiences on ethylene glycol, Pioneer will optimize the PSA process and provide better service to coal & chemical company, and help them enlarge capacity and achieve effects.

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