Honeywell International, the US technology and manufacturing group, says it has discovered a cheaper process to produce plastic from natural gas rather than from the by-products of oil refining.
According to an article by Plastics and Rubber Weekly, the technology could lower the cost of raw materials going into a range of plastics products and “give Honeywell a slice of the multi-billion dollar plastics raw material business”.
Honeywell said the new technique is capable of producing ethylene from methane rather than pricier sources such as ethane and naptha which is created during oil refining.
Rajeev Gautam, chief executive of Honeywell’s UOP petrochemical unit which had proved the process in its laboratory, told the Bloomberg news agency it would be several years before it was marketable.
“We have completed proof-of-concept experimental work and have seen good yields and performance. The next step is to start working on development and scale-up of the technology,” he said.
Gautam told Bloomberg UOP’s process using natural gas would eventually save around 40% from the cost of ethane-based ethylene production at current prices.
Producers have been switching to ethane as an ethylene feedstock, since prices have fallen relative to those of crude oil, following a boom in US natural gas production.