Dow recently announced that it will retrofit proprietary fluidized catalytic dehydrogenation (FCDh) technology into one of its mixed-feed crackers in Plaquemine, La., to produce on-purpose propylene. Dow expects that the retrofit will enable it to continue to meet growing demand for its businesses serving consumer, infrastructure, and packaging end markets while also remaining within its stated near-term capital expenditure targets. In 2016, Dow expanded the ethylene capacity of this same cracker by more than 225,000 metric tons and added the ability to crack ethane while maintaining the flexibility to crack propane, butane, and naphtha.

According to Dow, it and other U.S. cracker operators are consuming more ethane instead of heavier feed slates, resulting in a reduction of coproduct production, including propylene. This reduction in propylene has created a supply/demand gap in the U.S. that requires additional on-purpose propylene sources to meet the needs of downstream derivatives.

Dow reports that the FCDh technology retrofit further improves its ability to continue to source the most advantaged feedstocks while also producing reliable and cost-efficient on-purpose propylene to supply its integrated derivative units in Louisiana. The technology can also reportedly reduce capital outlay by up to 25% and lower energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%, thereby improving overall sustainability when compared to conventional propane dehydrogenation technologies.

The retrofit will reportedly enable the production of more than 100,000 metric tons of additional on-purpose propylene at full run-rate, further back-integrating Dow’s derivative facilities to cost-advantaged propylene while also maintaining the unit’s current ethylene production capacity. The project is expected to begin producing on-purpose propylene by the end of 2021.

“Deploying FCDh technology supports Dow’s continued focus on delivering low-risk, low-cost and high-return projects while reducing the energy intensity and carbon footprint associated with conventional technologies,” said Keith Cleason, vice president of Dow’s Olefins, Aromatics & Alternatives business. “Retrofitting our Plaquemine cracker will enhance asset utilization and leverage the U.S. shale gas advantage to meet growing customer demand for Dow’s differentiated polyolefins products.”

Additional details are available at