New Tech Converts NatGas into Ethylene, Bypassing Cracker Plants

Siluria’s Oxidative Coupling of Methane to ethylene (OCM) demo plant in La Porte, Texas

Ethane cracker plants are big deals. We’ve been writing about cracker plants possibly coming to the northeast since 2012, when Shell first floated their idea for a plant and selected a site outside Pittsburgh, in Beaver County, PA (see Shell Announces Location of Ethane Cracker Plant). A cracker plant is a big deal for a couple of reasons. One reason is that building the plant generates thousands of short-term jobs and injects $2-$3 billion (or more!) into the local and regional economy. It’s an economic stimulus the federal government just can’t match–and it doesn’t come from taxpayer’s wallets! In addition, once the plant is built, manufacturing plants begin to locate around it, like mini-satellites. Why? Because an ethane cracker chemically “cracks” ethane turning it into ethylene, the raw material used to make plastics. And plastics are used in just about everything you touch every day. These satellite companies represent thousands of permanent jobs and perhaps an infusion of $15-$20 billion into the regional economy–off the charts! But what if cracker plants were not needed to create ethylene? What if you could bypass cracking ethane and instead go right from natural gas (or methane) to ethylene? That is the premise behind a disruptive new technology from Siluria Technologies. Siluria has operated a pilot plant in Texas for the past year that essentially converts methane into ethylene, without using ethane. Here’s the details…

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