Alternative Feedstocks for Olefin Production: What Role will Ethanol Play?

2010 Spring Symposium

Mark Stewart
Research Scientist
Hydrocarbons & Energy and Alternative Feedstocks
The Dow Chemical Company

Abstract – Technology development and market forces are converging to portend the unthinkable: viable options for olefin production without a steam cracker. The Alternative Feedstock Program at Dow Chemical is implementing routes to olefin derivatives that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. This talk will describe these efforts and, in particular, highlight the emergence of bio-based polyethylene made by catalytic dehydration of ethanol to form ethylene. Next generation bioethanol options are described. The extinction of steam crackers is not imminent, but new technologies are finding their place. New alcohol production brings both vibrancy and uncertainty to olefin production.

Speaker’s Biography – Mark began his career with Dow in 1998 working in the Dow’s Central Research laboratories in Reaction Engineering on a variety of programs ranging from traditional semi-batch polyol reactors to modeling polyurethane reactions on straw in the production of wheat particleboard. In 2002 he moved to Hydrocarbons Research for the support of Styrene Plants, during which time he worked on several projects receiving Tech Center Awards valued in total over $60MM and integrated the technical reactor models into the commercial cost models to optimize overall production. In 2006 Mark transitioned to olefins research where he is currently working on the introduction of new technologies into traditional steam crackers and the development of alternative feedstocks for olefins production. During this time he worked closely in Dow’s effort in Brazil for the conversion of ethanol to polyethylene.

Mark earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington in 1997, his Master’s in Chemical Engineering Practice from MIT in 1998, and his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Texas in 2008.