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Ethylene Glycol Manufacturing

Ethylene Glycol Introduction

Mono ethylene glycol is a commercially important raw material in the manufacture of PET (poly ethylene terephthalate) polyester (fiber, film and bottle grade) , one of ethylene glycol’s two major chemical uses which consumes a large portion of total MEG production.

Mono ethylene glycol’s other major use, a non polymer one, is as an antifreeze blending for liquid-cooled motor vehicles to lower the freezing point when mixed with water.

DEG is used mainly as an intermediate in the production of unsaturated polyester resin and as an alcohol component in polyurethane manufacturing.

TEG has similar properties to DEG and is frequently preferred when a less volatile compound is required. TEG is the preferred agent for drying natural gas and in other moisture removing applications.

Manufacturing Process:

Ethylene Oxide is produced commercially by the direct catalytic oxidation of ethylene with oxygen over silver based catalyst under 220-270oC by the following reaction:

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Main Reaction

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Side Reactions

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In the ethylene glycol section, the liquid phase thermal hydration of ethylene oxide with excess water is desired reaction to produce predominantly mono ethylene glycol which undergoes side reactions yield approx. 10%wt of oligomers (DEG & TEG) as co-products. Purification of this mixture requires repeated fractional vacuum distillation to remove the water and to separate the MEG from the higher glycols.