Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Argonne breakthrough may revolutionize ethylene production

07.02.2008
Scientists create environmentally friendly technology to produce commonly used compound

A new environmentally friendly technology created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory may revolutionize the production of the world's most commonly produced organic compound, ethylene.

An Argonne research team led by senior ceramist Balu Balachandran devised a high-temperature membrane that can produce ethylene from an ethane stream by removing pure hydrogen. “This is a clean, energy-efficient way of producing a chemical that before required methods that were expensive and wasteful and also emitted a great deal of pollution,” Balachandran said.

Ethylene has a vast number of uses in all aspects of industry. Farmers and horticulturalists use it as a plant hormone to promote flowering and ripening, especially in bananas. Doctors and surgeons have also long used ethylene as an anesthetic, while ethylene-based polymers can be found in everything from freezer bags to fiberglass.

Because the new membrane lets only hydrogen pass through it, the ethane stream does not come into contact with atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen, preventing the creation of a miasma of greenhouse gases – nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide – associated with the traditional production of ethylene by pyrolysis, in which ethane is exposed to jets of hot steam. The world’s ethylene producers manufacture more than 75 million metric tons of ethylene per year, causing millions of metric tons’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike pyrolysis, which requires the constant input of heat, the hydrogen transport membrane (HTM) produces the fuel needed in order to drive the reaction. By using air on one side of the membrane, the already-transported hydrogen can react with oxygen to provide energy. “By using this membrane, we essentially enable the reaction to feed itself,” Balachandran said. “The heat is produced where it is needed.”

The new membrane reactor also performs an additional chemical trick: by constantly removing hydrogen from the stream, the membrane alters the ratio of reactants to products, enabling the reaction to make more ethylene that it theoretically could have before reaching equilibrium. “We are essentially confusing or cheating the thermodynamic limit,” Balachandran said. “The membrane reactor thinks: ‘hey, I haven’t reached equilibrium yet, let me take this reaction forward.’”

While Balachandran’s team, which included chemists Stephen Dorris, Tae Lee, Chris Marshall and Charles Scouton, designed this experiment merely to prove the membrane’s capability to produce ethylene, he hopes to extend the project by pairing with an industrial partner who would produce the membranes commercially. Since the membrane reduces the number of steps required to produce ethylene, the technology could enable the chemical to be produced more cheaply, he said.

The results of the research are expected to be presented at the 2008 Clean Technology conference in Boston in June. The work was funded by the Department of Energy's Industrial Technology Program, which resides within its Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Steve McGregor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.anl.gov

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Etching Microstructures with Lasers
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>