Propylene Production

CATOFIN® Propane/Butane Dehydrogenation

The CATOFIN® technology is a unique process for the production of olefins, such as propylene (from propane) and iso-butylene (from iso-butane). Lummus Technology has exclusive worldwide licensing rights to this technology. The catalyst is produced by Clariant, a leading company in the development of process catalysts. Due to its superior thermodynamic operating conditions of vacuum and lower temperature for reactors, CATOFIN provides the highest conversion and selectivity for conversion of paraffins to olefins. Even when co-producing propylene and isobutylene, high conversions can be maintained. The CATOFIN process employs multiple reactors operating in a cyclic manner with an automated program so that the flow of process streams is continuous.

There are nine CATOFIN propane dehydrogenation plants operating worldwide, producing more than 5.0 million tons of propylene per year. There are six CATOFIN iso-butane dehydrogenation plants operating worldwide, producing close to 3.0 million tons of iso-butylene per year. Two units are simultaneously producing propylene and isobutylene in the same reactor system.


The CATOFIN® process uses a single stage of reaction providing the following benefits: 

  • Reliable and robust operation—high on-stream factor
  • Highest per pass conversion (>45% for propane and >53% for iso-butane) and selectivity (>88% wt/wt for propane and >89% wt/wt for iso-butane)—lower investment and operating cost
  • Lowest raw material consumption
  • Raw material flexibility/feed purity—no feed pretreatment needed
  • Higher hydrogen yield
  • Quicker time to start up and make products (initial and re-starts)
  • Easier and shorter turnarounds
  • Highest single train capacity designs (>1000 kta for propane and iso-butane)—economy of scale
  • Non-noble metal catalyst
  • Simple CS metallurgy for reactors
  • No proprietary equipment
  • No catalyst make-up
  • No chlorine handling/caustic scrubbing
  • No hydrogen recycle or dilution steam  

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