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MEG - Monoethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol in its pure form, is an odorless, colorless, syrupy liquid with a sweet taste. Ethylene glycol is produced from ethylene, via the intermediate ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide reacts with water to produce ethylene glycol according to the chemical equation. This reaction can be catalyzed by either acids or bases, or can occur at neutral pH under elevated temperatures. The highest yields of ethylene glycol occur at acidic or neutral pH with a large excess of water. Under these conditions, ethylene glycol yields of 90% can be achieved. The major by-products are the ethylene glycol oligomers diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol, and tetraethylene glycol.

Its Molecular Weight is 62.07 g/mol and Normal Boiling Point is 197.1°C. Mono-Ethylene Glycol (MEG) is the other raw-material required for production of Polyester. Ethylene glycol was first prepared in 1859 by the French chemist Charles-Adolphe Wurtz from ethylene glycol diacetate via saponification with potassium hydroxide and, in 1860, from the hydration of ethylene oxide. There appears to have been no commercial manufacture or application of ethylene glycol prior to World War I, when it was synthesized from ethylene dichloride in Germany and used as a substitute for glycerol in the explosives industry. In the United States, semi commercial production of ethylene glycol via ethylene chlorohydrin started in 1917. The first large-scale commercial glycol plant was erected in 1925 at South Charleston, West Virginia, by Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Co. (now Union Carbide Corp.).

By 1929, ethylene glycol was being used by almost all dynamite manufacturers. In 1937, Carbide started up the first plant based on Lefort's process for vapor-phase oxidation of ethylene to ethylene oxide. Carbide maintained a monopoly on the direct oxidation process until 1953, when the Scientific Design process was commercialized and offered for licenses.

Shell, Equistar SABIC, INEOS, LyondellBasell, Reliance Industries Ltd, Akzo Nobel, BASF, Clariant, Dow Chemical, Huntsman, LG Chem, Mitsubishi Chemical Corp, Mitsui Chemicals, Sasol, Shanghai Petrochemical, Sinopec are some of the leading producers of MEG in the world. The current Global Capacity for MEG is at around 30 MMT out of which nearly 70% is contributed by Top 10 producers.

From a regional standpoint, Northeast Asia has become the dominant MEG consumer globally, accounting for 63% of the 2015 demand. Within this region, China is by far the largest consumer, with 84% of regional consumption in 2015, China alone accounted for about half of the MEG consumption globally. The growing textile industry in China has been a key driver for the increasing demand for polyester fibers. Most Chinese MEG consumption growth has been driven by the increasing production of PET polymer, Chinese PET capacity has grown at a sustained rate of 14.5% per year over the past 15 years.

In India, Reliance is one of the largest manufacturers of Polyester with current capacity of MEG at 700 KTA. The projected demand for MEG for 2016-17 is at 2285 KTA.

The concept of “Green MEG” (MEG made from Agriculture based Alcohol) is slowly catching up in the West with many PET bottle manufacturing marketing it as environmentally friendly less carbon footprint products. MEG can be used for applications that require chemical intermediates for resins, solvent couplers, freezing point depression, solvents, humectants and chemical intermediates. These applications are vital to the manufacture of a wide range of products, including resins; deicing fluids; heat transfer fluids; automotive antifreeze and coolants; water-based adhesives, latex paints and asphalt emulsions; electrolytic capacitors; textile fibers; paper and leather.

MEG applications include - Textiles, Packaging, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Film, sheet and moulded containers for food packaging continue to grow in popularity. Lightweight soft drink containers based on PTA & MEG are crystal clear and shatterproof. Boil-in-bag pouches use polyester films, while retortable and microwave packages use coextruded films and containers, Furnishings, Consumer Goods, Adhesives, Sealants and Coatings, Alkyd Resins for Paints and Coatings, Antifreeze, Dyes & Inks, Humectants, Explosives, Suspending agents for eltrolytic conductors etc.

Ethylene Glycol Scientific Design Process:

Scientific Design's Ethylene Oxide/Ethylene Glycol (EO/EG) technology provides the safest and most efficient means for producing high purity EO and/or fiber-grade monoethylene glycol (MEG). These products are used in many important derivative processes (several licensed by Scientific Design) to make a wide variety of industrial and consumer goods such as polyester fibers, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, and antifreeze

Process Description:
Ethylene and oxygen are combined to produce EO in a multi-tubular catalytic reactor. The highly exothermic reaction is carefully controlled with proprietary and effective safety systems developed by Scientific Design. EO produced in the reactor can be separated to high quality purified EO and/or further processed to produce fiber-grade monoethylene glycol (MEG) as well as di- and triethylene glycols (DEG, TEG).

Capacity (kt) Actual Actual Actual Actual Actual Projected
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
RIL 800 800 700 700 700 700
IGL 150 150 150 150 150 150
IOC 350 350 350 350 350 350
Total 1300 1300 1200 1200 1200 1200
Source: Industry
  MEG: India Demand Supply
Actual Actual Actual Actual Actual Projected
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Capacity 1300 1300 1200 1200 1200 1200
Production 995 1057 1040 960 1102 1110
Dom Sales 920 988 976 900 1030 1060
Imports 625 656 864 982 1093 1225
Exports 58 69 64 69 72 75
Consumption 1545 1644 1840 1882 2123 2285
Cons Growth (%)   6.4% 11.9% 2.3% 12.8% 7.7%
Source: Industry
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