Issue 11, 2023

Optimized design and techno-economic analysis of novel DME production processes


The shift from gas to liquid phase DME synthesis enables an intensified process concept towards efficient large scale DME production. In this work, four process concepts based on liquid phase DME synthesis were proposed and optimized. A comprehensive economic model was applied with the objective of minimizing the total production cost. All concepts were evaluated applying our previously validated reaction kinetics for commercial ion exchange resin selected catalysts. Furthermore, every process concept was studied with a pure MeOH feed and water-rich (crude) MeOH feedstock. The conventional gas-phase DME production process was simulated and evaluated using the same technical and economic parameters to serve as a benchmark. Using a chlorinated high temperature stable IER catalyst led to significant cost reduction in all the considered concepts. This was due to the higher reaction rate enabled by the higher operating temperature of this catalyst. In the integrated process concept with H2 and CO2 as sustainable feedstocks, it was shown that the reactive distillation process shows a 27% lower production cost, when the crude methanol is directly fed to the DME process instead of being purified in a dedicated crude methanol distillation column. A further techno-economic optimization can be achieved when complementing the reactive distillation column with an additional reactor. Overall, the process concept of a reactive distillation column with a side reactor presents the most promising process concept, enabling a 39% lower production cost than the conventional gas-phase process. By heat integration with a CO2-based MeOH plant, a DME production technology with no external heat demand and a net conversion cost of 54.4 € per tDME is possible.

Graphical abstract: Optimized design and techno-economic analysis of novel DME production processes

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
16 Jun 2023
18 Jul 2023
First published
04 Aug 2023
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

React. Chem. Eng., 2023,8, 2826-2840

Optimized design and techno-economic analysis of novel DME production processes

M. Semmel, M. Kerschbaum, B. Steinbach, J. Sauer and O. Salem, React. Chem. Eng., 2023, 8, 2826 DOI: 10.1039/D3RE00333G

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