Steam cracking and natural gas to olefins: Energy efficiency and CO 2emissions

Tao Ren*, Martin Patel, Kornelis Blok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Steam cracking for the production of light olefins (e.g. ethylene and propylene) is the single most energy consuming process in the chemical industry. Production of light olefins from natural gas is possible through different routes. This paper compares the cumulative energy use and CO2 emissions of some of these routes (methanol-to-olefins, methanol-to-propylene and oxidative coupling of methane via ethane) with those of naphtha and ethane-based steam cracking. One conclusion is that the most efficient natural gas-to-olefms-via-methanol uses more than twice as much primary energy as state-of-the-art steam cracking to produce one ton of high value chemicals. This is largely due to high energy use in methanol production. Another conclusion is oxidative coupling of methane via ethane routes could have low CO2 emissions if more recycling is used and less electricity is co-generated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2005 AIChE Spring National Meeting, Conference Proceedings
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event2005 AIChE Spring National Meeting - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: 10 Apr 200514 Apr 2005


Conference2005 AIChE Spring National Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA


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