A new gas-to-ethylene plant has been commissioned by Siluria Technologies, a San Francisco company that specializes in technology for converting natural gas into fuels and chemicals.

According to Siluria, its new facility will enable natural gas to supplement crude oil as the basis for transportation fuels, commodity chemicals and plastics. This adds value to natural gas resources while also reducing the cost of producing chemicals, plastics and fuels because natural gas is cheaper and more plentiful than crude oil. In turn, that could result in lower prices paid by consumers.

The demonstration plant in La Porte, Texas, is the first to produce ethylene directly from natural gas using Siluria's Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM) technology, an efficient catalytic process which the company says is more scalable, more environmentally friendly and more cost-effective in many settings than current methods of production.

The new plant represents the final scale-up of the OCM process technology and paves the way for Siluria to deploy commercial-scale plants in around two to three years' time.

"This revolutionary breakthrough has the potential to shift the foundation of the hydrocarbon economy by using abundant natural gas to produce high-value chemicals and fuels," commented Ed Dineen, Siluria's CEO. "We are well positioned with our commercial and engineering partners to now move quickly to full commercialization of our proprietary technologies."

Siluria has backing from Saudi Aramco and partnerships with leading industry players including the Linde Group and Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem, Reuters reported.