World's first large-scale DME plant pushes ahead

25 June 2004
Denmark's Haldor Topsoe, in collaboration with the local Petrochemical Research & Technology Company (NPCRT),has been awarded a contract to license technology, provide engineering and supply catalysts for the world's first large-scale dimethyl ether (DME) plant. The client is Zagros Petrochemical Company, a National Petrochemical Company (NPC) affiliate (MEED 23:5:03).

The 800,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) facility will be located in the Pars Special Economic/Energy Zone near Bandar Assaluyeh. Methanol feedstock for the plant will be sourced from Zagros, which produces 1.65 million t/y at its complex. The DME produced will be based on technology developed by Haldor for the dehydration of methanol and made available in Iran through scientific and technological collaboration with NPCRT. Engineering is ongoing and a tender for the plant's construction is expected by the end of the third quarter.

The cost of building the facility will be marginally greater than for a similar-sized conventional methanol plant. Zagros is understood to have approached a number of international contractors to carry out the project, including Germany's Lurgi, Italy's Snamprogettiand Japan's Toyo Engineering Corporation. Five local companies have been selected and approved by Zagros as potential partners (MEED 5:12:03).

No export agreements for the DME have yet been agreed, and it is understood that NPC is looking to create a market for the product inside Iran, primarily for household and light industrial use or for adding to the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pool.

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