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Ethane (C2H6) is a minor component of natural gas.

In Australia, ethane gas is supplied to Altona, Victoria from the Bass Strait, and to Botany Bay, NSW from the Cooper Basin (the northeast of South Australia and southwest of Queensland).

Ethane can be used in its gaseous form as a single-use source of energy. It can also be used by industry as a feedstock and processed to manufacture a range of single-use and beneficial, re-useable, long duration cycle, recyclable, products, which are able to be used within the developing circular economy.

Ethane is used to manufacture ethylene in Australia. Ethylene can be used to manufacture a number of products as shown in the ethane value chain below.


 ethane 2

Source: Acil Allen based on American Chemistry Council 2017, Elements of the Business of Chemistry


Ethylene is used to manufacture polyethylene. There are 3 types of polyethylene:

  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) which is used to manufacture food and non-food packaging film such as:
    • meat and poultry wrapping, frozen food and liquid packaging
    • stretch and shrink wrap, garment and merchant bags
    • industrial sheeting and agricultural films
  • Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) is used to manufacture:
    • Higher tensile, used in film applications for packaging, shrink/stretch film and non-packaging
    • Extrusion coating of paper and paperboard for liquid containers
    • Injection moulded into kitchen and garden products, toys, etc.
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is used to manufacture detergent bottles, milk bottles, pipe, etc.

Ethylene oxide

Ethylene can also be used to manufacture ethylene oxide.

Ethylene oxide products are sold into a wide range of markets, including auto coolants, polyester resins, brake fluids, surfactants and detergents, dispersants/foaming agents, etc.

Ethylene oxide is also used to manufacture polyesters which are used to make fibres, films and resin.

Other important ethylene oxide derivatives include:

  • ethoxylates (shampoo, kitchen cleaners, etc)
  • glycol ethers (solvents, fuels)
  • surfactants (agricultural, personal care, etc)
  • polyols for polyurethanes (adhesives, building products, insulation)
  • polyethylene glycols (toothpaste, medicines, etc)
  • polyalkylene glycols (antifoam agents, hydraulic lubricants, etc)

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