New Jersey Patent of the Month – September 2023

Petron Scientech Inc. (Petron) has been developing novel chemical technologies since 1991. Their initial and primary focus was on converting renewable Ethanol into bio Ethylene and other chemicals for use in a range of day-to-day renewable plastics. They have remained dedicated to this endeavor, developing new technologies and catalysts for projects worldwide.

Recently, the company has been granted a patent for their method of purifying ethylene oxide (EO). Their inventive method promises not only to enhance EO purity but also to streamline the operation of combined ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol plants.

The production of EO involves a complex series of steps, with the ultimate goal of achieving high EO purity. EO is initially produced as a hot gaseous effluent stream from the reactor. However, its EO content in this form is relatively low, necessitating a process for recovery, further purification, and concentration. 

Conventionally, this process includes cooling the effluent gases, followed by absorption in water, which results in a highly diluted EO solution with various impurities. The next step is to strip EO from this dilute solution, followed by reabsorption in recycled EO-free process water to create more concentrated EO solutions.

Petron has embarked on a journey to revolutionize this process, starting with the quenching and alkaline treatment of the vapor stream. By scrubbing it with a recirculated, cooled, aqueous alkaline stream, they efficiently remove acidic compounds and by-products like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

The heart of their innovation lies in an EO reabsorber, where EO is reabsorbed in a bypassed dilute EO absorbate, resulting in an EO-enriched reabsorbate solution. This higher EO concentration feed is then directed to a high purity EO distillation column, delivering the required EO concentration for high-purity EO production.

What makes Petron’s method truly remarkable is its ability to significantly reduce stripping steam consumption. By bypassing a portion of the dilute EO solution directly to the EO reabsorber, they eliminate the need for additional stripping, slashing energy costs.

Surplus EO reabsorber bottoms and the acetaldehyde-EO purge stream are combined with a portion of the reabsorber bottoms to produce a feed for a second lights stripper. This further lowers EO concentration for use in the glycol reactor, maximizing efficiency.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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