Synthesis Gas: A Raw Material for Industrial Chemicals

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Science  02 Jan 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4477, pp. 11-16
DOI: 10.1126/science.211.4477.11


Rapid increases in the price of imported crude oil have accelerated a shift in the raw material base for chemical feedstocks from natural gas to crude oil to coal. Widespread use of ethylene as a feedstock has depended on the availability at attractive prices of natural gas and petroleum. As the resource base shifts from natural gas and petroleum to coal, ethylene is being replaced by synthesis gas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide of varying composition), which can be manufactured directly from any of these carbonaceous sources. This trend is expected to accelerate in the 1980's. Organics likely to be produced from synthesis gas include ethanol, ethylene glycol, and vinyl acetate.