A Comparative Study between Propane Dehydrogenation (PDH) Technologies and Plants in Saudi Arabia

Hisham A. Maddah


Propane dehydrogenation (PDH) is a promising catalytic technology utilized for the conversion of propane into propylene which is involved in many petrochemical applications. A comparison between current PDH plants and technologies (CATOFIN and OLEFLEX) in Saudi Arabia was discussed to analyze propylene production capacity, reactor type/configuration, reaction catalyst, operating conditions, performance, advantages, disadvantages and other design specifications/considerations of PDH technologies. CATOFIN and OLEFLEX chemical processes have been critically reviewed and explained for better understanding. CATOFIN uses chromium-oxide catalysts in horizontal fixed-bed parallel reactors, while OLEFLEX uses platinum catalysts in vertical moving-bed series reactors. There are four PDH plants in Saudi Arabia: NATPET and Al-Waha (CATOFIN plants), APC and SPC (OLEFLEX plants); with a propylene production capacity of 420, 450, 455 and 455 KTA, respectively. Both technologies have a similar operating temperature of > 600 °C, operating pressure of ~ 1 bar; and propylene selectivity of ~ 90%. Propane/propylene conversions in CATOFIN and OLEFLEX are ~ 50% and ~ 40%, respectively.


Propane dehydrogenation; CATOFIN; OLEFLEX; Propylene; PDH.

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