Propene (propylene) is a by-product of oil refining and natural gas processing. During oil refining, ethene (ethylene), propene, and other compounds are produced as a result of cracking larger hydrocarbons. A major source of propene is naphtha cracking intended to produce ethene (ethylene), but it also results from refinery cracking producing other products. Propene can be separated by fractional distillation from hydrocarbon mixtures obtained from cracking and other refining processes; refinery-grade propene is about 50 to 70%.
Conversion: In the Phillips Triolefin or Olefin conversion technology propylene is interconverted with ethene (ethylene) and 2-butenes. Rhenium and molybdenum catalysts are used:
CH2=CH2 + CH3CH=CHCH3 → 2 CH2=CHCH3
The technology is founded on an olefin metathesis reaction discovered at Phillips Petroleum Company. Propene yields of about 90 wt% are achieved.