There has been much talk of bringing an ethane cracker plant to West Virginia. But the state is investing in an alternative technology via an investment of $250,000 by the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust in Aither Chemicals, LLC. A traditional cracker plant requires an investment of approximately $1 billion or more. According to the press release by the WV Dept. of Commerce, “Aither uses an integrated process for creating chemical products derived from ethylene. Aither’s process is designed to work on a smaller scale with less start-up costs than traditional steam cracker.”
Leonard Dolhert, Chief Executive Officer of Aither, said the company’s immediate goal is to build an alliance of investors, of which the Jobs Investment Trust is key.
There was no information released regarding potential future investors in Aither.
“In Marcellus shale and the byproduct ethane gas, West Virginia has a natural resource with tremendous economic potential. Aither’s approach to convert ethane into petrochemicals will enhance our capability to develop this resource, retaining and creating jobs in this state” said Keith Burdette, chair of the Jobs Investment Trust and secretary of the state Commerce Department in a prepared statement.
Raw natural gas is composed of methane (70-90%) and natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane.