Techno-economic assessment of different routes for olefins production through the oxidative coupling of methane (OCM): Advances in benchmark technologies

Vincenzo Spallina, Ildefonso Campos Velarde, José Antonio Medrano Jimenez, Hamid Reza Godini, Fausto Gallucci, Martin Van Sint Annaland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    582 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper addresses the techno-economic assessment of two technologies for olefins production from naphtha and natural gas. The first technology is based on conventional naphtha steam cracking for the production of ethylene, propylene and BTX at polymer grade. The unused products are recovered in a boiler to produce electricity for the plant. The plant has been designed to produce 1 MTPY of ethylene. In the second case, ethylene is produced from natural gas through the oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) in which natural gas is fed to the OCM reactor together with oxygen from a cryogenic air separation unit (ASU). The overall reactions are kinetically controlled and the system is designed to work at about 750–850 °C and close to 10 bar. Since the overall reaction system is exothermic, different layouts for the reactor temperature control are evaluated. For the naphtha steam cracking plant, the energy analysis shows an overall conversion efficiency of 67% (with a naphtha-to-olefins conversion of 65.7%) due to the production of different products (including electricity), with a carbon conversion rate of 70%. The main equipment costs associated with naphtha steam cracking are represented by the cracker (about 30%), but the cost of ethylene depends almost entirely on the cost associated with the fuel feedstock. In case of the OCM plant, the overall energy conversion efficiency drops to maximally 30%. In the studied plant design, CO2 capture from the syngas is also considered (downstream of the OCM reactor) and therefore the final carbon/capture efficiency is above 20%. The cost of ethylene from OCM is higher than with the naphtha steam cracking plant and the CAPEX affects the final cost of ethylene significantly, as well as the large amount of electricity required.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)244-261
    Number of pages18
    JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
    Early online date5 Nov 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017


    • Economics
    • Energy analysis
    • Ethylene production
    • Naphtha steam cracking
    • OCM process


    Dive into the research topics of 'Techno-economic assessment of different routes for olefins production through the oxidative coupling of methane (OCM): Advances in benchmark technologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this