Did you know that…?
Mono-ethylene glycol - or MEG - is a vital ingredient for the production of polyester fibres and film, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins and engine coolants.
End uses for MEG range from clothing and other textiles, through packaging to kitchenware, engine coolants and antifreeze. Polyester and fleece fabrics, upholstery, carpets and pillows, as well as light and sturdy polyethylene terephthalate drink and food containers originate from ethylene glycol. The humectant (water attracting) properties of MEG products also make them ideal for use in fibres treatment, paper, adhesives, printing inks, leather and cellophane.
MEG is a colourless, odourless liquid with a syrup-like consistency.
55% of MEG is used to make polyester fibres. 25% of MEG is used in polyethylene terephthalate - or PET - packaging and bottles.
45% of the world’s MEG output is consumed in China.
Global MEG demand was around 21 million tonnes in 2010. Forecasts suggest that by 2015, demand could be above 28 million tonnes per year. In China, MEG demand continues to grow at around 7% each year.
Shell opened one of the world’s largest MEG plants in November 2009 at its integrated refinery and petrochemicals hub in Singapore. The plant has an annual capacity of 750,000 tonnes.
Annual output from the MEG plant in Singapore could produce over two million tonnes of polyester, enough to make 6.7 billion polyester shirts - more shirts than there are people in the world.
MEG is produced from ethylene via ethylene oxide, which in turn is hydrated by using either a thermal or catalytic production process.
Shell is a leading global producer of MEG, with world-scale plants in key markets, a global customer base and proven global logistics capability.
Shell is a leading global licenser of proprietary process technology for both catalytic/thermal and solely catalytic production of MEG.
Shell’s MASTER process technology, which uses a catalyst to convert ethylene and oxygen into ethyelene oxide, followed by a thermal process, also produces smaller amounts of the co-products diethylene glycol (DEG) and triethylene glycol (TEG).
Shell’s new OMEGA catalytic process technology produces only ethylene glycol.
More information on Shell’s MEG and ethylene oxide process technology, including OMEGA, is on a separate factsheet.
Note: global data sourced from PCI Xylenes and Polyesters Ltd