Indonesia is a country that has never been talked about in the eyes of the world. The blue of the ocean and the natural resources of this country seem to be a pearl for those who see it. For almost 75 years this country has been independent of the right to power for its homeland, with a population that is now above average, of course, forcing the government to rack its brain to manage its natural resources.
It is recorded that there are 267 million people living in the paradise land of Indonesia. Of course, with a population capacity that is quite extraordinary, some data and facts will emerge which will result in the explosion of the growth rate in Indonesia. This time the red and white country was seriously affected by the increase in population. One of the sectors affected by the demographic bonus that hit besides oil energy as a resource that is quite vital is the petrochemical industry.
In the last few decades, Indonesia has experienced an energy deficit, one of which is caused by the high demand and import of raw materials for the petrochemical industry. It should be noted that the petrochemical industry is also one of the industries that is quite vital in ensuring the survival of the Indonesian people.
What is the petrochemical industry?
Petrochemical is an industry that operates in the processing of chemicals by using raw materials from the results of the processing of oil and natural gas. Indirectly the petrochemical industry is also related to the oil and gas industry or often called oil and gas. Of course, this is something that is quite difficult for the petrochemical industry to maintain the continuity of the process
Briefly, petrochemicals are divided into three, namely upstream, intermediate, and downstream. For upstream petrochemicals, examples of semi-finished products are propylene, benzene, toluene, ethylene, methanol and so on. In petrochemical intermediates, products such as polyethylene, ammonia, butene, dichloroethylene-vinyl chloride and so on are obtained. While downstream petrochemicals produce finished goods that we often encounter such as fertilizers, clothing fibers, cosmetic tools and so on.
Well, to produce all the types of products above, of course the petrochemical industry must rack its brains to get raw materials that are easy to get and economical. In general, there are 3 classifications of raw materials for the petrochemical industry, namely olefins, aromatics, and natural gas synthesis.
What are the most common problems?
We need to know that to produce the petrochemical products above, of course, we need hydrocarbon raw materials, such as ethane, naphtha, and coal gas. One of the current sources of weakness in the national petrochemical industry is the limited number of hydrocarbon raw materials.
The world currently has two main raw materials for the petrochemical industry, namely ethane gas which is mostly used in the United States and the Middle East. Meanwhile, naphtha is used as a raw material in Asia Pacific and Europe. One of them is Indonesia, which currently uses naphtha, especially at Chandra Asri Petrochemicals (CAP).
One of the strategies to strengthen the petrochemical industry, Indonesia needs to secure the supply of natural gas, naphtha, and coal with a clear and structured roadmap, since the price of petrochemical products is highly dependent on the price of raw materials.
The contribution of raw materials in the final price can reach 70-80%. Of course, the selection of raw materials is very important. In general, natural gas-based industries have better profit margins than naphtha although the product spectrum in naphtha-based petrochemicals is more varied.
Coal is also a strategic raw material for Indonesia. With the current oversupply of natural gas in the world, coal prices will remain low. For this reason, some of the coal needs to be processed domestically to produce petrochemicals. With the right pollution mitigation technology, pollution in coal-based industries can be minimized. ( Muraza, 2020 )
Therefore, it is necessary to apply Methanol To Olefin technology massively in the motherland to continue to strengthen the petrochemical industry in Indonesia. Because we know that olefins are the biggest need in the production process in the petrochemical industry.
Getting to Know Mehanol To Olefin Technology
The Methanol to Hydrocarbon process was discovered in Mobil Oil in 1977. This process is used to convert methanol into products such as olefins and gasoline. The first methanol can be obtained from coal or natural gas. In the Methanol to Olefin (MTO) process, methanol is then converted to olefins such as ethylene and propylene. Olefins can be reacted to produce polyolefins, which are used to make many plastic materials. Honeywell’s advertised MTO process flow chart is shown below.
Of great importance to the successful application of the MTO process is the acid zeolite catalyst. Without this catalyst, the chemical reactions involved in the MTO process would be too slow for the process to be economically feasible. (Wang et al. 2006). In short, it may be concluded that the essence of Methanol to Olefin is the process of making olefins from natural gas, coal.
Therefore, in my opinion, it is quite important for the Methanol To Olefin process technology to be applied massively in Indonesia, considering that Indonesia has abundant natural gas sources of coal.