TEC Establishes Large-scale DME Manufacturing ProcessOct. 16, 2001

Toyo Engineering Corporation (TEC, President Toshihiko Hirose) has established a large-scale Dimethyl Ether (DME) manufacturing process with a capacity of about 2.5 million t/y. The DME process employed by TEC involves converting natural gas to synthesis gas (mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas), and by causing this to react over a catalyst, the technology results in the production of DME via methanol. Based on its extensive experience in the area of technology to produce synthesis gas, a technology common to ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen plants, sectors where TEC has established itself as a recognized expert, by combining new synthesizing technologies, it has established a DME manufacturing process with an output of 7,000 to 8,000 t/d (production equivalent to 2.5 million t/y).

Compared to the technology to make DME directly from synthesis gas, a process that only produces a few t/d, the DME manufacturing process via methanol has the following advantages. It requires only a few new development elements, it is easy to use for large-scale plants, and it is possible to implement with just one DME reactor, even a large 2.5 million t/y type, and so this keeps plant construction costs low.
TEC calculates that at a location where natural gas is relatively cheap, such as the Middle East, a large-scale DME plant using this natural gas as feedstock would be able to produce DME at a price of US$90 to 100 per ton (FOB). This is equivalent to a calorific value cost of US$3 per 1 million BTU. As it is similar in nature to LPG, if existing LPG infrastructures such as carrier shipps and storage facilities were used, it would be quite competitive as a clean fuel source.

As countries in the Far East such as Japan and China, as well as India import large amounts of energy, it is expected that if DME, a clean energy form that has low toxicity and is easy to handle, can be manufactured at large-scale plants at low cost, it will come into extensive use as an alternative fuel to LPG and diesel fuel oil.
Up to now, TEC has placed emphasis on developing a large-scale version of the process and evolving ways of implementing an actual project with the assumption in mind that this would be implemented as a project to built a DME manufacturing plant in the Middle East or Southeast Asia, and the resultant fuel would be sold in the Far East markets including Japan.
In the feasibility studies adopted by JETRO in FY 2001 for the manufacture and export of Dimethyl Ether in Iran, in a joint operation with Mitsui & Co., TEC undertook an in-depth feasibility study with the aim of actually implementing this project.

TEC is scheduled to implement the evaluation of a project in the Middle East for Gas-To-Liquid (GTL), technology to produce clean petroleum products using the same kind of gas synthesizing technology. TEC is committed to a continuous engagement in the technology to convert natural gas to clean fuels.

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