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MEG - Monoethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol in its pure form, it 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 byproducts 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, semicommercial 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.

Global demand for MEG is estimated to be 22 million tonnes with capacity of 28 million tonnes. Based on demand for Polyester, demand for MEG continues to remain healthy and is likely to reach 29 million tonnes by 2015. MEG major use is as a raw material for polyester and it also finds usage as anti freeze and other chemical applications. Reliance is one of the largest manufacturers of Polyester. Globally MEG demand has seen phenomenal growth over the last five decades to reach a level of 22 million tonnes. Overall global capacity has reached a level of 28 million tonnes out of which nearly 70% is contributed by Top 10 producers. MEG Global demand witnessed a robust growth of 11% in 2010 and is expected to grow at a healthy CAGR of 6% upto 2015 well above the expected global GPD growth. Middle East having an advantage of cheap ethane feedstock is a dominant player in the MEG Industry having built up large capacities of nearly 9 million tonnes. China has emerged as a main consumption hub having building up large downstream Polyester capacities to the tune of 30 million tonnes.

In 2006-07, MEG industry in India was at 950 KT and was a small player in the global market. In a span of five years the industry has grown to 1300 KT. The growth momentum is expected to continue with industry expected to cross 2 million tonnes mark by 2016-2017. Other major producers of MEG are IOCL & India Glycol Ltd in addition to RIL.

The Current domestic capacity stands at 1.3 million tonnes in 2011-12, which is lower than current consumption of 1.84 million Tonnes. The domestic shortfall in supply results in an import of MEG mainly from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore to the tune of 800 KTA/Annum. IGL producing the MEG through alcohol route is able to export its MEG at a premium. In India with a series of new Polyester expansion lined up, MEG will continue to be in shortfall even after commissioning. Total MEG capacity is expected to touch 2.0 MT in 2016 and Reliance Industries Ltd has planned to raise its capacity from 0.8 MT in 2011 to 1.5 MT in 2016. Nearly 85% of MEG produced by RIL goes for captive polyester production.

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.

Mono-ethylene Glycol (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 Projected
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
RIL 800 800 800 800 1500 1500
IGL 150 150 150 150 150 150
IOC 0 350 350 350 350 350
Total 950 1300 1300 1300 2000 2000

Producer MEG: India Demand Supply
Actual Projected
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Capacity 1300 1300 1300 1300 2000 2000
Prod/Cons 1045 1105 1114 1114 1847 1847
Imports 876 1036 1274 1550 1126 1262
Exports 85 85 85 85 85 85
Consumption 1836 2056 2303 2579 2888 3024
Cons Growth (%)   12% 12% 12% 12% 5%

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