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Syngas to Ethylene Glycol Technology (SEG® technology)

Early stages of SEG® development originated from HighChem business parner, UBE Industries Ltd. Since 1980s, UBE Industries Ltd. has played a leading role in  the development of process technology for coal-based syngas (obtained through coal gasification, biomass gasification, coke oven gas conversion, natural gas conversion, shale gas conversion, and other methods) to dimethyl oxalate and dimethyl carbonate.

UBE has been operating the only 10,000 ton/yr DMC/DMO joint production facility in the world for more than 20 years using syngas as starting raw material.

With technical support from UBE Industries, HighChem completed the process development of dimethyl oxalate hydrogenation to ethylene glycol in collaboration with industry partners including  East China Engineering Science and Technology Co., Ltd., (ECEC)and Zhejiang Realsun Chemical Co., Ltd. 

The world's first set of SEG® production unit—Xinjiang Tianye 50,000 ton/yr syngas to ethylene glycol facility started up successfully in early January 2013 in Xinjiang, China, and as of June 2017, the unit has been running for 53 months, meeting the standards of safety, stability, long-term operation, full-load capacity, and quality excellence.

Market prospects of coal to ethylene glycol     



Looking at current market situation in China, there are great potential and opportunities for market expansion in the application of SEG® technology. The production and supply of ethylene glycol in China is limited.  In 2016, ethylene glycol consumption in China was 13.55 million tons (12.55 million tons for polyester and 1 million tons for non-polyester products), and the accumulative import volume was 7.57 million tons, which accounted for 56% of the total demand. China's heavy dependence on the import of ethylene glycol is projected to be an on-going trend for many years to come.                

Process flow diagram of SEG® technology:  

SEG®technology is based on the chemical reaction of carbon monoxide and hydrogen generated in coal, shale gas, coal combustion exhaust, natural gas, and other substances to produce ethylene glycol. The reaction can also make effective use of exhaust gas stream generated during the production of carbides and steel.
<strong>SEG<sup>®</sup>technology is based on the chemical reaction of carbon monoxide and hydrogen generated in coal, shale gas,  coal combustion exhaust, natural gas, and other substances to produce ethylene glycol. The reaction can also make effective  use of exhaust gas stream generated during the production of carbides and steel.
  • SEG ® Technology Features
    As the inventor of the gas phase CO synthesis dimethyl oxalate, UBE has more than 30 years of industrialization experience.
    High reaction selectivity and high product purity.
    UBE has a unique technology for handling the explosive important intermediate MN to achieve the intrinsic safety of the device.
    Few byproducts (DMC/DMO <2%)
    Highly active carbonylation and hydrogenation catalysts and high reaction efficiency
  • What We Offer
    Commercialized technology with more than four years of fully operational experience.
    Commercialized catalyst production and performance with proven track records.
    Continuous efforts in optimization of existing technologies.
    Comprehensive transfer package including the support in sales of products.

1. High selectivity: Selectivity of the carbonylation catalyst is above 99%, and the selectivity of hydrogenation catalyst is above 98.5%. 

2. High efficiency of hydrogenation catalyst: Efficiency of HighChem catalyst is two to five times of competitor’s equivalent product. Our catalyst does not pulverize easily during reaction process, and does not cause a drastic drop in reactor pressure in any short durations.

3. Long catalyst life: The carbonylation catalyst of HighChem has been used in the Xinjiang Tianye Phase I SEG transfer project for over 3 years, with expected catalyst life of more than five years. The hydrogenation catalyst of HighChem is the only catalyst that has more than one year’s operating performance in the market with a service life of about one and one-half years.

4. Small loading quantity: With a low bulk density, lesser loading quantity is required in the same reactor.

5. High expertise in catalyst production: High level of quality assurance and flexibility in production schedule to meet customer requirements.

1.Safety: We holds more than 30 years of expertise in handling of highly explosive intermediate products (nitrite methyl) and operation of DMO unit. 

2. Stability: The 50,000-ton/yr Xinjiang Tianye Phase I project achieved output of 44,000 tons in the startup year and output of 5.2–5.4 million ton/yr for the last three years.

3. Low unit consumption: Based on proven track records, HighChem process unit consumptions achieves the lowest level compare to competitors in the industry.

4. Technology optimization: Together with UBE Industries, we optimize existing technologies and are committed to the research and development of process scale up tailored to customer needs.

5. Stable and reliable product quality: We received positive feedback from downstream polyester manufacturers (Zhejiang Tongkun and Shuangtu), ethylene glycol produced from CTEG technology offers the most stable and reliable quality in the industry. 

6. Overall performance: As of July 2017, we have completed CTEG transfer package at 14 locations with a total capacity reaching 4 million ton/ yr.

SEG offers customers with a combination of cost advantage in raw material and technological advantage.  

SEG® produces the EG of the highest quality at lowest overall cost in industry worldwide.




HighChem Technology Transfer& Licensing

In addition to SEG®, HighChem serves as a transfer & licensing agent for many other syngas based technologies from Japan and China. 

※ 1New route of ethanol synthesis
※ 2 Fischer-Tropsch synthesis technology
※ 3 Glycol ether fuel (STO) technology

High-efficiency capsule catalyst for one-step synthesis of ethanol from syngas (Patent pending in China)


・One-step synthesis of ethanol from syngas

・Catalyst life is more than 3000 hours

・Selectivity of ethanol is above 80%

・The STY of ethanol is above 320 g/kg-cat‧h

Fischer-Tropsch synthesis technology uses synthesis gas (obtained through coal gasification, biomass gasification, coke oven gas conversion, natural gas conversion, shale gas conversion and other ways) as raw material to synthesize clean liquid fuel dominated by straight-chain alkanes and free of sulfur and nitrogen.

HighChem has been committed to the research and development of FT catalysts. HighChem Tokyo Research Center collaborated with University of Toyama on the research and development of new FT catalyst, which is magnified and optimized by HighChem Shanghai Laboratory and Nantong Laboratory, and is finally industrially produced by HighChem Nantong Catalyst Factory, to realize the upgrading of the catalyst.

Reaction mechanism

nCO+2nH2 = ( CH2 )n  + nH2

Technical advantages

1. Compared with traditional co-precipitation and supported iron-based catalysts, the newly developed high-performance supported catalyst improves the space-time yield.

2. The development of new pore structure catalyst improves the conversion rate and selectivity of the catalyst.

As a multifunctional composite fuel additive integrating multi-effects, economy, and safety with high efficiency, glycol ether can comprehensively improve the petroleum-based, coal-based diesel quality. It is tailor-made to the technological characteristics of SEG® technology. By changing the use of the byproduct methanol in the SEG® process, HighChem further develops coal-based liquid oxygenated fuel technology for producing glycol ether through a one-step reaction.

Features of glycol ether oxygenated fuel: 

1. Good miscibility with diesel that requires no transformation of gas turbine system

2. Two-component system, flexible deployment of the cetane number

3. Significant reduction in soot and carbon monoxide emissions

4. Significant reduction in diesel pour point

5. Green and environment friendly without secondary pollution

6. 25% to 30% can be added to diesel.