CEH: Styrene Report

CEH: Styrene

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Mar 2020. Styrene (SM) is a colorless, oily, aromatic liquid with a sweet odor that is easily polymerized and is used to make plastics and resins. Styrene is the precursor to polystyrene and several other copolymers. Styrene is produced mainly from ethylbenzene (EB)-based technology. In this process, EB is first made by the catalytic alkylation of benzene with ethylene, using either aluminum chloride or, more recently, zeolite catalysts. The reaction can be carried out in either vapor or liquid phases. Benzene is a liquid that is easily and cost-effectively transported. It comprises approximately 80% of the styrene molecule by mass and is an important component of the cost of styrene. By comparison, ethylene is only about 30% of the styrene molecule by mass, but it is a gas and is difficult to transport. For this reason, styrene plants are typically, but not always, located close to ethylene crackers. The coproduction of styrene with propylene oxide by the PO/SM process is the second major styrene technology. This route has been employed by LyondellBasell, Repsol, and Shell (including the Seraya and Ellba ventures). In this process, EB is oxidized to its hydroperoxide, which is then reacted with propylene to produce propylene oxide and methyl benzyl alcohol. The latter product is then dehydrated to styrene. After a large amount of restructuring and rationalization since 2008, the global styrene industry has continued the long, slow process of recovery from the previous decade’s recession.

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  • Publish Date: 2020-03-16
  • Chemical Focus: Aromatics and Fibers
  • Number of Pages: 87
  • Content Type: Report
  • Delivery: Email with link to PDF file


    • Global summary; regional coverage
    • Producers with annual capacities and plant sites
    • Consumption and five-year forecast by end-use application
    • Price and production figures and trends
    • Trade imports and exports

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