Butylene Oxide Plant Being Built in China

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Sinopec’s Yanshan Petrochemical is installing a production line to make butylene oxide, a chemical intermediate used to make lubricant additives along with other applications.

The facility, designed with capacity of 4,000 metric tons per year, will be the first in China to use domestically-developed technology using an efficient method to produce the chemical on a commercial scale, according to a local news report. As such, it is part of China’s recently ramped up strategy of becoming self-sufficient in a wide range of materials.

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Yanshan is a wholly owned subsidiary of national energy giant Sinopec, with a massive petrochemical refinery on the outskirts of Beijing. According to a report by China Energy News, the company announced Sept. 16 that it was installing a production line that will use the cumyl hydrogen peroxide method to make butyl oxide. The report said that the method was developed independently by Shanghai Petrochemical Research Institute and that it has greater yields than alternative co-oxidation methods and that it generates less waste that is more easily treated.

Sinopec called the project an important step in the development of a domestic supply base for butylene oxide, stating that it will allow consumers of the chemical to replace foreign suppliers.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s central government has been promoting development of domestic capability to make a wide variety of materials, in order to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers. The strategy was spurred partly by widespread supply chain disruptions triggered by the health crisis but also by an ongoing trade war with the United States.

Polyalphaolefins and API Group III base stocks are among the list of materials that have been supplied mostly by foreign companies and that domestic companies are now developing capability to produce.

The China Energy News report did not state the cost of the project or a target start-up date.

Butylene oxide is mainly used in the production of chemical intermediates and polymers, and is used in lubricant applications such as refrigeration lubes, as well as detergents, synthetic rubbers and other applications.